By Alan Hudes
Women’s Hockey Beat Reporter
After four years of probationary status in Toronto’s Golden Blades Women’s Hockey League, the team known as the Toronto Stingers will finally be able to call themselves Rams.
Ryerson’s women’s hockey team is set to enter the uncharted waters of Ontario University Athletics (OUA). So forgive them if they wanted a proven winner at the university level behind the bench.
Lisa Jordan, who was named as the team’s head coach on April 1, led St. Mary’s University in Halifax to eight championship appearances and four titles in 14 years. Add that to several gold medals with Team Canada and it would be hard to argue that she isn’t a perfect fit for the job.
Normally, coaches of that calibre aren’t readily available and rarely fall into your lap. If you don’t believe me check the National Hockey League (NHL) for proof. It just doesn’t happen.
Ryerson deserves a ton of credit for this acquisition, as Jordan will be a huge asset for the women’s hockey program. She’ll make the transition to varsity status a much smoother one.
While the Stingers are fresh off a championship after posting an undefeated season, they must be feeling quite confident in themselves.
But learning how to win at a higher level is never as simple as it seems.
The games are faster, the goalies are stronger and the defence won’t be nearly as easy to get around.
Jordan clearly knows the university game inside and out, and understands what it takes to become a winner. It may take some time, but she’ll take them to that next level.
But Jordan’s presence may be more important than her skill set. She will make other teams take Ryerson seriously in its inaugural season.
The other timely part of this hiring is current head coach Stephanie White’s situation. Like Jordan, White also has connections with Hockey Canada and will remain as an associate coach of the team. That said, her other position as Ryerson’s manager of marketing and special programs for athletics now demands more of her time than ever with Maple Leaf Gardens set to open this fall.
It’s not that White hasn’t been a solid coach for the Stingers the last three years, or that she wouldn’t have succeeded behind the bench of an OUA team. If anything, she’s guided this program through a long transition process and has built a solid foundation for Jordan to improve upon.
While both women have been with Team Canada, Jordan adds an aspect that White simply doesn’t have: coaching experience at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) level. Fortunately for Ryerson, she’s had a highly successful career to this point.
Perhaps none of us saw this move coming. It certainly caught me by surprise, but it shouldn’t be that shocking. Putting Jordan in charge of this team was incredibly smart on so many levels.
St. Mary’s loss has become Ryerson’s gain, and the OUA better be ready for the Rams next season.