Toronto, ON- Rather than playing their usual schedule of games over a span of a few months, the National Women’s Hockey League is heading to Lake Placid, NY for a two week condensed bubble hockey season. There will be a handful of familiar faces for U SPORTS fans both on the ice and behind the bench.
Autumn MacDougall became the first-ever NWHL draft pick to come out of a Canadian University in 2020. U SPORTS players have played in the NWHL before, but MacDougall was the first selected in the entry draft. MacDougall went 14th overall after five seasons with the University of Alberta Pandas. MacDougall is durable, dependable and an offensive powerhouse. She has two Canada West championships and a national championship to her name with the Pandas. The Beauts will have a special player in MacDougall as long as she makes is able to transfer her skills to the professional level.
The Buffalo Beauts have become the go to destination for many Brock Badgers alumni who want to make the jump into a professional career. Kim Brown played a full five year career with the Badgers before heading south to play in Buffalo. She was a core player for the Badgers who really came into her own in her final two seasons.
Brown is a grinder who’s not afraid to get a little bit physical to create space for her teammates. She scored eight points in 24 games in 2019-20, which was her rookie season with the Beauts. She’s not an elite scorer, but the role she plays is an important one nonetheless. Her ability to create space was an asset at Brock and has continued to prove useful in Buffalo.
Also from the Brock Badgers is Buffalo Beauts rookie, Hunter Accursi. Accursi graduated from Brock last year and then signed with the Beauts. Buffalo fans were hoping to see Hunter play alongside her older sister, Taylor [Accursi] who was recently named captain, in the bubble. It won’t work out this season as Taylor isn’t able to leave her full-time job for the two week season.
Taylor might not be heading to Lake Placid, but Beauts fans will still have an Accursi to cheer for. Hunter is a two way forward whose contributions often start in her own end. Like Brown, Accursi isn’t exactly an offensive powerhouse, but she’s an incredibly valuable piece on any team.
The NWHL’s first and only Canadian team, the Toronto Six, also has some U SPORTS faces lining the bench. Kristen Barbara played five seasons with York University. She graduated in 2015-16 and was an OUA all-star in three of those seasons. Barbara was the quarterback for York’s powerplay during her time in the OUA. She’ll be sure to rack up all kinds of assists if she sees significant power play minutes in the bubble.
Someone who’ll know all about Barbara’s power play gifts is Lisa Haley. Haley is the head coach for women’s hockey at Ryerson and she’ll be joining the Six as an assistant coach in Lake Placid.
The most recent OUA alum to join the NWHL is Taytum Clairmont. Clairmont played at Northeastern university in the NCAA from 2014-15 until 2017-18. An injury lead her to red-shirt in 2016-17 which is what ultimately brought her to Waterloo in the OUA. Clairmont was able to use her remaining USPORTS eligibility to play for the Waterloo Warriors for two years while she went to school. Clairmont racked up awards and scoring titles in her time at Waterloo and scored 28 points in 23 games in her final season with the Warriors.
The NWHL bubble starts on Jan. 23 and can be streamed at https://www.twitch.tv/nwhl with the semi-finals and the final being broadcast on NBCSN. Be sure to look out for you favourite U SPORTS players in Lake Placid.