Sarnia rearguard eyes women’s hockey prize

Sarnia’s Dani Girard, #25, of the Queen’s Golden Gaels, covers her check during a CIS women’s hockey game. Photo courtesy, Ian MacAlpine

Barry Wright

Dani Girard wants a different ending to the scene she was part of in 2013.

That year, the 22-year-old Sarnian and her Queen’s Golden Gaels teammates qualified for the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) national women’s hockey tournament, only to lose three one-goal games, including two in overtime.

Now fast forward to 2015, where the St. Christopher grad and her colleagues tied for third place in the uber competitive Ontario University Athletics (OUA) league with a record of 16-5-3.

Of the 13-team circuit 10 teams had a winning record in conference play and four teams from the OUA were consistently ranked in the top 10 in the country: the Golden Gaels, Western, Guelph and Toronto.

At press time, Queen’s was playing Wilfred Laurier in the first round of the playoffs in a rematch of last year’s OUA final in which the Golden Hawks knocked off Queen’s in a three-game final.

But Girard is confident of a different result this year, so long as she and her mates bring their A game to the post season.

“We’ve got good speed and we’ve got some size.  We’ve got a nice balance which can be very difficult to play against,” she said.
“When we are playing the best that we can, when we are really on our game, I think we can go all the way.”

Over four seasons with the Golden Gaels, Girard, a stay-at-home, physical defenceman, has nine goals and 28 assists in 100 conference games. Though not a prolific scorer, she has a penchant for notching important goals, with four coming on the power play and three being game-winners.

The fourth year Biology student, who plans to return for a fifth year of study and hockey next season, credits Sarnia Lady Sting minor coaches Bill Moore and Rob Pecora and her Cyclones high school coach Blake Morrison for influencing the player she is today.

Girard is one of five local players participating in the CIS women’s hockey playoffs this year.

The others are Kendra Broad and Marlowe Pecora at Western, Kassandra Roache at the University of Toronto and Jillian Rops at Windsor.