VANCOUVER, BC – For the second year in a row, Canadian U SPORTS athletes stood alongside their NCAA counterparts in the National Women’s Hockey League Draft. A year after Erin Locke (York) and Autumn MacDougal (Alberta) became the first U SPORTS student-athletes to be drafted, three others joined them.
York University’s Taylor Davison, Alberta’s Kennedy Ganser and Concordia’s Olivia Atkinson heard their names called on Monday night, as NWHL teams welcomed their newest class of youngsters.
While none of the U SPORTS athletes competed in 2020-21, the Toronto Six and Buffalo Beauts believed in the quality shown in years prior, sticking with their scouting rather than drafting more from the NCAA.
Although 3 of 30 picks is not an astounding amount compared to the 27 NCAA athletes, Tuesday’s draft set the record for the most Canadian university players ever drafted in a single class.
Six stay local with Taylor Davison
The Toronto Six, who play out of the York-based Canlan Ice Centre, made history with their 5th overall pick, selecting Davison, who became the highest ever selected U SPORTS player. Through her four seasons as a York Lion, the Torontonian defender established herself as one of the most dynamic in the OUA, nearly leading the Lions to the 2020 McCaw Cup championship.
“Taylor [Davison] is used in every situation. Power play, penalty kill, even strength, she is used a lot,” said former York Lions Director of Advanced Performance Rachel Doerrie ahead of the 2020 OUA Final. “She makes the gameplay at her pace; she controls it.”
While Davison’s offensive stats did not pop off the page in her first three OUA seasons, she exploded in 2020, scoring four goals for 20 points through 27 regular-season games before adding another four points in five playoff appearances.
If she signs with the Six, Head Coach Mark Joslin gets a player who can play in every situation, including on a powerplay that already boats league MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis. Toronto conceded the second-most goals in the 2021 NWHL regular season, and adding Davison would undoubtedly shore up their backend.
Buffalo likes Alberta, draft Kennedy Ganser
After finding a gem in Autumn MacDougal in 2020, the Buffalo Beauts went back to the University of Alberta to select centre Kennedy Ganser. Even with U SPORTS not playing in 2020, Beauts GM Nate Oliver already had an idea of what he was drafting in Ganser, who centred MacDougal’s line with the Pandas.
Through four seasons in Edmonton, the 5-foot-3 centre scored 85 points in 112 games, winning a pair of Canada West championships in her final two seasons. With Ganser on her way to Buffalo, the Beauts will have the top two leading scorers from the last Pandas regular season campaign.
Toronto looks to Montreal with Olivia Atkinson
After picking up Davison in the first round, the Six went back into the U SPORTS player pool, drafting talented forward Olivia Atkinson from Concordia University. Also, having spent time with McGill, Atkinson has established herself as one of the RSEQ’s premier scorers in her five U SPORTS seasons.
Atkinson scored 27 goals for 52 points in her combined time between the Martlets and Stingers while also briefly playing professionally with the Montreal Canadiennes of the CWHL in 2018-19.
Hockey legends and Concordia coaches Julie Chu and Caroline Oullette announced her selection on Draft Day, with Chu saying, “She has the ability to score and generate offence and is solid defensively,” in a press release.
After crowning the Boston Pride as 2021 Isobel Cup Champions at the end of an abbreviated season, the NWHL is hoping to return to home markets for their 2021-22 season, which would include the Toronto Six playing at home for the first time.