By CHARLES TWEED
It was almost the perfect season for Ponoka’s Janelle Parent and the St. Francis Xavier University X-Women’s hockey team from Antigonish, N.S.
After rattling off 24 consecutive wins to claim top spot in Atlantic University Sport (AUS), the X-Women promptly won all three of their playoff games, complete with an exclamation point in a final — a 9-2 win over the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleues.
Parent approached near god status in the final — a six-point night, collecting two goals and four helpers.
“We had a lot of offense this year and we pushed really hard. We were successful and part of that was being a tight-knit group and that helped out on the ice,” said Parent.
The win earned St.FX a trip to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship.
The X-Women won their first two — both 4-3 victories over Laurier and Manitoba. The wins pushed St.FX into the finals of the CIS against powerhouse McGill. The Martlets had won three of the last four national titles.
Bidding for a perfect season the XWomen fell just short. St.FX lost the gold medal game 5-3, not the color of medal Parent was hoping for but she’s proud of what the team accomplished.
“We made history going to nationals and getting a medal, that had never happened before for women’s hockey (at St.FX). It’s a great achievement to get silver and it was quite the experience and I’m really proud of what we accomplished,” said Parent.
Parent played two seasons ago at the University of PEI, her transfer to StFX meant she had to red shirt for one year. The time off allowed her to practice with the team but she was unable to play. This year she certainly made up for lost time. Named a first team all-star in the AUS, she also led the country in goal scoring with 21 markers and racked up 44 points total.
“I had an all right year,” said a modest Parent. “I had to red shirt last year so I didn’t want to leave anything behind. I had a few good linemates and we tore it up so we were very successful this year.”
A successful season on the ice didn’t slow down Parent in the classroom either.
“It’s hard to do, we’re on the ice six times a week and with a full course load we don’t have much of a social life. It’s either hockey or hitting the books — it takes a lot of commitment,”
Parent said the busy schedule means the team becomes an extended part of the family. The team is together both on and off the ice and provide a support network for each other. That support might be extra important for Parent considering she is according to Google Maps about 5,000 kilometers from home.
“They (Mom and Dad) supported me in my decision to play hockey out here. It was my first time leaving home — they knew it was what I wanted and it’s a part of growing up.” “It’d be nice for them to watch some games and they probably miss that a lot but for the most part it’s good,” said Parent.
Mom and Dad are Brian and Lori Parent and Janelle said they made the trip a couple of times to watch her play and were in Waterloo, Ont. to watch the CIS championships. Parent admitted that both played a big part in her development as a hockey player in minor hockey in Ponoka.
“My Mom and Dad through 18 years of hockey have always been beside me in whatever I do. Blair Thompson has been inspirational as well and we still talk and he’s been very motivational,” said Parent. “I come home and I skate with a lot of young girls and it’s nice to see it developing and there is more interest in it. It’s good to see the effort people are putting in to make the program stronger.
Parent plans on playing hockey for as long as she can. She has set goals of making the Canadian University National Team and expects St.FX to be strong again next year. The team graduates three players and one of the three is eligible to come back and play again next year. She hopes some of the success translates to future success in Ponoka.
“When I was growing up there weren’t a lot of female hockey players and now there is a few of us from Ponoka that are at this level of hockey and when we come back and are asked to skate with these girls and talk to them, a few of them walk away with a better sense of what they have to look forward to. I think that’s good for them.”