Chatham-Kent Women’s Hockey Prospects: Return To Play Edition
With a new season upon us, it’s time again to take a look at our top Women’s hockey prospects. After an almost entirely lost season for Chatham-Kent athletes, this list is a work in progress, but with so many recent commitments for local women’s hockey stars, it’s also an a very different list.
Gone is top prospect Taryn Jacobs who made an NCAA commitment to RPI, and gone is veteran star Brooke Michaud who is headed to Ryerson.
Unfortunately, the pandemic also took several talented U15 and U18 players out of the sport completely this year, as some chose not to return.
Now, in comes a new pool of talent, waiting to receive their call from NCAA, ACHA, and OUA teams.
Here are our top U15 and U18 prospects, followed by a group that had already claimed their spot on this list:
U15 Prospects – Ali Altiman and Fiona Waddick highlight this list. They’re both elite talents who were both in ‘AAA’ boys hockey prior to the pandemic. They are likely candidates to jump to the PWHL as first year U18 eligible players. The rest of the group, which includes first and second year players, has been playing together throughout minor hockey. There is great depth in this group, and this will be the year where these players begin to separate from the pack. Bria Bacik, Arionna Hopkins, Paytyn Logan-Whiteye, Meghan Fife, and Libby Pink are part of this group. Draedyn Wrightman is another young prospect to watch.
U18 Prospects – The group of Lindsay St. Germain, Morgyn Woudenberg, Karys VandeWiele, Ashlynn Spence, Hudson Denure, Abby Pomajba, Laurel Johnston, Emily DeBrouwer, and Jeanette Legere are all playing at the U18 ‘AA’ level in Chatham-Kent or Bluewater. All of these players are in their first U18 campaign, although some were eligible during the pandemic. From the older group, St. Germain and VandeWiele possess high hockey IQ. Both see the ice well, and play a puck possession game. Woudenberg and Spence are athletic players, relying more often on their individual physical abilities to drive play forward. The younger group, including Legere and Debrouwer, who will play in Bluewater, and Denure in Chatham will all work to earn their opportunities against older competition, but in a year that has levelled the playing field, the chance is there for them to excel. This group will round out the remainder of our first in season list, and will likely displace players already listed.
8. Hailee Schepens – Schepens is one of the last remaining veterans on the Chatham-Kent Crush U18 ‘AA’ team from their pre-pandemic roster. Versatile, Schepens has good and hands and a deceptive shot.
7. Samara Whiteye – The veteran U18 netminder played for the Chatham-Kent Crush prior to the pandemic, and made Windsor’s U18 ‘AA’ team this season before instead choosing to play for A21 Academy in Windsor. Whiteye hopes to catch the eye of college recruiters at the prep school, which has had growing success placing players.
6. Abby Tape – Excellent hands, a deadly shot, elite on ice vision and decision making highlight Tape’s resume. Like many, she lost a year at the ‘AA’ or Junior level because of the pandemic. Tape, who just moved up the 401, will play for the Kitchener U18 ‘AA’ team this season. Her skill set could earn her regular call ups to their PWHL roster as the season goes on.
5. Ella Altiman – Bishop Kearney, USHS – Altiman would have been in the PWHL last season had it not been for the pandemic. She’s played both defense and forward positions in recent seasons, giving her a versatility most don’t have. She’ll get the NCAA treatment this season at Bishop Kearney, a school that pumps out more NCAA commitments than any PWHL club can boast. Altiman could easily launch herself up this list, and take an NCAA commitment quicker than those above her with a strong start to her year.
4. Kate Martin – Bluewater Hawks, PWHL – Martin is a player who the pandemic hit harder than others. She stayed in ‘AA’ a season longer than those above her on this list, and missed her first PWHL season last year because of COVID. This season however, schools will get a chance to snatch this smooth skating defender who has now slid under the radar. She is intelligent and a good puck mover. Martin could be the hidden gem of this class.
3. Brenna Dittmer – Southwest Wildcats, PWHL – Dittmer has a strong skill set, from her edgework to puck control, she is mobile and capable of playing an uptempo game, and joining the rush. She graduates this year, and will be undoubtedly fielding offers from both sides of the border.
2. Natalie Bray – Southwest Wildcats, PWHL – Bray made the move to Southwest this season, a club which has had incredible success finding NCAA and OUA commitments for players in recent seasons. She graduates this season, meaning this is her year to secure a commitment. A solid two way forward, Bray will benefit offensively from the talented Southwest core.
1. Abby Stonehouse – London Devilettes, PWHL – Stonehouse jumps to the top of the list for a few reasons. First, her age. Although she certainly would have been in the PWHL last year, Stonehouse is still looking forward at the NCAA commitment line rather than sitting in the pool of uncommitted players like others. Second, she offers a complete package of competitiveness and skill. The dynamic abilities are here, and she’s likely to be snapped up by a school in the not too distant future.