A Sarnia woman was part of Mercyhurst University’s record-setting hockey season team this year, as well as its oh-so-close championship final.
Aubrey Cole recently wrapped up her first season at the Erie, Pennsylvania college, which went undefeated at home for the first time in school history.
“I came in just looking to improve, to contribute as much as I could,” she told The Journal.
“As a freshman it’s a really big adjustment, but it’s been a really good experience and the girls are awesome.”
Mercyhurst clinched the College Hockey of America regular season and tournament championships by defeating rival Robert Morris 2-1 in overtime on March 7.
But the college was denied its chance to claim the sport’s highest honour when the NCAA Women’s Division 1 championship final against Cornell was cancelled March 12 over the Covid-19 public health threat.
“We have a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude,” Cole said just prior to the game in Ithaca, New York.
“At this point if we don’t put it all out there then there’s no next game anyways, so we really have nothing to lose.”
At that point, she was still expecting the final to be played, although with restricted fan attendance.
Cole packed her bags and left Sarnia in Grade 9, leaving family and friends to pursue her dream of becoming an elite hockey player at the elite Ridley College prep school.
The 5’ 11” defenceman was a part of two silver-winning seasons at Ridley and named 2016 Varsity Hockey Rookie of the Year.
In 2017 she joined the Whitby Wolves and in 2018 moved over to the Strathroy Bluewater Hawks. Both teams are in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), the top amateur women’s league in the province.
Before that she played for the Lady Sting organization and in Mooretown.
Cole has a hockey pedigree. Her father, Lee Cole, played three seasons in the OHL, suiting up for Sault Ste. Marie and Kingston in 1994-97.
Playing for Mercyhurst, with and against some of the best female hockey talent in North America, is her biggest challenge yet, she said.
“It’s definitely a lot faster. Everybody is strong, everybody is in the same place that you are — looking to be their best.”
In class, Cole is working on double majors in education.
The state of women’s professional hockey in North America is getting better all the time she said, pointing to the 3-on-3 match at the NHL All Star game that included Mercyhurst alumni Meaghan Agosta.