St.Catharines,ON- Some of the top talents in U SPORTS hockey are heading to the PWHPA. Alex Poznikoff, Jordyn Zacharias, Molly Jenkins, Christine Chao, Taytum Clairmont and Jensen Murphy have all been announced as new members of the player’s association. These skilled players will have an opportunity to train and try out to compete in one of five regional training hubs found in Calgary, Minnesota, Montreal, New Hampshire and Toronto.
Alex Poznikoff, Forward, University of Alberta
Alex Poznikoff is truly an ambassador for U SPORTS hockey. She turned down offers from NCAA schools so that she could take her talents to her hometown University of Alberta Pandas in 2015. She’s expressed interest in playing for the national team but kept her career north of the border to help grow U SPORTS hockey.
Poznikoff was an exceptional player from the beginning. Though she started playing on boys’ teams, she quickly adjusted to the women’s game when she started playing in her mid-teens. She joined the Edmonton Thunder, winning two medals, a bronze in 2013 and a silver in 2014. She was named tournament MVP after scoring six goals and four assists in seven games in 2014. She participated in the 2014 summer series against the United States as a member of team Canada.
Poznikoff’s stats and achievements speak for themselves, back to back Canada West titles in 2018/19 and 2019/20, after winning the U SPORTS title in 2017. She lead Canada West in points in 2018/19 with 37, (15 goals, 22 assists). She also won the Brodrick trophy this past season, which goes to the best women’s hockey player at the U SPORTS level. Former winners of that trophy include Hall of farmers, Hayley Wickenheiser, Kim St. Pierre and fellow PWHPA members, Liz Knox, Melodie Daust and Ann-Sophie Bettez among others.
No stranger to hard work, Poznikoff has made adjustments to her game throughout her career. She can play wing, but transitioned to centre during her time on the Bears. Her determination shone through this season, when she suffered an injury in January that looked like it might have ended her career with the Pandas. After scoring the first goal in a game against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, she broke her leg and left the game. Her chances of being able to return to the lineup were slim but she had her sights set on joining her team in the playoffs, and she did, joining them in the semi-finals and ultimately helping her team to secure their record breaking fourteenth championship.
It was one of the best stories in U SPORTS this season, but it ended in heartbreak when the No.1 seeded Pandas were sent home from the U SPORTS national championships in PEI because of the COVID cancellations in March. It’s a terrible way to end a season, let alone a university career, but the silver lining for Poznikoff is that she won’t have to put away her skates after graduation.
Poznikoff has Olympic aspirations, and she’s in good company among PWHPA members.
Molly Jenkins, Goalie, University of Windsor
Molly Jenkins had the tough task of standing in net for the Windsor Lancers this past season.The Lancers finished the season with a single regulation win, leaving them out of playoff contention. They spent a lot of time killing penalties which means that their tandem of goalies faced an onslaught of shots nearly every game. Despite her team’s shortcomings, Jenkins finished the season with a .916% in 11 games played and averaged 30 saves per game.
Jordyn Zacharias, Forward, University of Manitoba
Also from Canada West, is forward, Jordyn Zacharias. She played a year of NCAA hockey at UConn before opting to transfer to play for the Bisons in Manitoba. In Zacharias’ second year, the Bisons clinched the U SPORTS title. Zacharias assisted on Finnish ice hockey legend, Venla Hovi’s game clincher. She’s a consistent and durable forward, playing all 28 games in the past three seasons, and only missing two in her first year. She was thirteenth in Canada West scoring with 16 points, 7 goals and 9 assists.
Christine Chao, Defender, University of Toronto
Chao was a member of this year’s McCaw Cup winning Varsity Blues. The Blues went 18-6 in the regular season and Chao played every game. Over her five years with the Blues, Chao missed only a single game in her first year. She had a strong playoffs this past season with five points in six games. She was regularly one of the OUA’s highest scoring defenders with her best season coming in 2018/19 when she scored seven goals and 17 total points in the regular season. She was named the OUA’s defenceman of the year, the OUA’s most sportsmanlike player and an OUA first team all-star. Like many other graduating seniors, Chao’s final season was cut short when the U SPORTS championship was called off in March. The Varsity Blues had the No. 2 seed going into the tournament after winning the OUA championship. Chao had the championship clinching empty netter in the final between the York Lions and the Blues after playing a strong defensive game in front of Erica Fryer.
Taytum Clairmont, Forward, University of Waterloo
Clairmont was the OUA’s strongest forward this season without question. The played three full seasons of NCAA hockey at Northeastern before coming to Waterloo to pursue a Masters degree. Though her time at Northeastern wasn’t anything showstopping (37 points in 110 games played), Taytum’s production increased with the Waterloo Warriors.
Clairmont lead the OUA in points and assists this past season with 28 points in 23 games (11 goals, 17 assists). She has a tenacious and tough style of play. She’s no stranger to the penalty box but she’s certainly no stranger to scoring pretty goals either, scoring this gorgeous between the legs goal against Ryerson in November.
Jensen Murphy, Goalie, Brock University
For nearly four seasons, Jensen Murphy has been the backbone of Brock women’s hockey. She played 23 games for Brock, more than any OUA goaltender, and finished the season with a .946 SV%.
Murphy is consistent and confident. She’s almost impossible to beat when she sees the shot coming and teams know that if they stand a chance against her, it’s probably on a rebound. Murphy routinely stole games for the defensively challenged Badgers and was their last line of defense on the penalty kill. She’s a fascinating player to watch, quick reflexes and incredible focus. The Brock Badgers didn’t make it past the first round of the playoffs in her five years with the program but that didn’t stop Murphy from being named this year’s OUA goalie of the year and a first team All-Star in 2019/20. The PWHPA have announced an abundance of goalies so far and Murphy would be up against some steep competition in the Toronto region, but she’s an incredibly special goalie who thankfully, doesn’t have to hang up her pads just yet.
While none of these players are guaranteed ice time in a showcase or a roster spot, they’ll be able to train and use resources in their respective regions. The PWHPA are announcing new members every week and we’ll be keeping an eye out for U SPORTS talent.