By Jake Romphf
The Nepean Junior Wildcats had four representatives at the 2017 National Women’s Under-18 Championships. There were three players from the team, including a pair of Nepean natives that helped Team Ontario Red win their fourth straight championship at the November tournament.
Abygail Moloughney and Sophie Wolf each made their debut playing at the provincial level during the Nov. 1-5, national tournament in Quebec City. The tournament, consisting of eight provincial teams from coast to coast, featured the best female hockey players in the country under the age of 18.
Wolf, 17, is in her second season playing goalie for the Nepean Junior Wildcats. “Sophie has a tremendous work ethic and along with her positive attitude she makes coming to the rink a lot of fun for the coaches and her teammates,” said Bruce MacDonald, the Nepean Wildcats’ head coach.
Wolf posted a .994 save percentage and 1.40 goals against average in her first year with the team. “She never gives up on any shot, she can steal games on her own and the bigger the game the better she plays,” MacDonald added.
Wolf committed to play for the Lindenwood University women’s hockey team next year, in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“She is a tremendous goalie, skates well, competitive, athletic and has a great work ethic,” said Lindenwood head coach, Scott Spencer. “After getting to know Sophie as a kid, there isn’t a reason you wouldn’t want her on your team…always smiling, just a great person to be around.”
Wolf stopped 27 of the 29 Team Atlantic shots in Ontario Red’s first game of the tournament and 29 of the 32 Team Ontario Blue shots in game 3, both of which were losses. Team Ontario Red was just 1-2 after the preliminary round, but were able to squeak into the semifinals, despite their losing record.
Moloughney emphasizreakered the importance of maintaining intensity in each game of the tournament, despite the team’s slow start.
“Girls blocking shots with their bodies, or just working as hard as they possibly can to get the puck out of our zone or drive the puck to the net, those small things make a really big difference,” she said.
Moloughney had one goal in the tournament. She scored midway through the second period of Ontario Red’s semifinal matchup against British Columbia. Moloughney fought off two defenders and beat B.C.’s netminder with a top-shelf shot, while falling to the ice mid-shot. Ontario Red beat British Columbia 6-1 in the game to advance to the gold medal game.
Moloughney, also 17, is in her 3rd season playing for the Junior Wildcats. She scored 14 goals and tallied 10 assists in 34 games last season.
“She has tremendous speed and that has made her a tough player to defend,” MacDonald said of the forward.
Moloughney agrees that speed is a big part of her game. “I especially love cutting across the ice and receiving passes on the breakout so I can enter the offensive zone with speed and this really helps me to open up the ice and set up my other teammates,” said Moloughney.
Moloughney committed to play for Syracuse University in the NCAA when she was in Grade 11. “Her athleticism is what initially attracted us to recruit her, but her positive attitude, tenacious work ethic and strong character are the attributes we admire most about Aby,” said Syracuse head coach, Paul Flanagan.
Ontario Red beat their provincial counterpart, Team Ontario Blue, 3-1 in the championship game to win the gold medal. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had – the last 30 seconds of game you get so excited and its honestly such a surreal feeling to know you are accomplishing something so great,” said Moloughney.
In January, Moloughney will suit up for Team Canada for the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Women’s Under-18 World Championship in Russia. “It’s been another goal of mine for a while now and I’m so excited that all my conditioning has paid off,” said Moloughney.
Lauren Bellefontaine, a Kemptville native, was the third Wildcat to win gold with Team Ontario Red. She’ll join Moloughney with the Syracuse Orange next year. The Wildcats’ Josie Chisholm, originally from St. Andrews, N.S., played in the tournament for the team representing the Atlantic provinces. She will return to her home province to play for St. FX next year.