Despite only one year of AAA midget hockey experience, Alexandra Anderson will be suiting up for the Manitoba Bisons next season.
The 17-year-old West Kildonan resident is the Bisons’ ninth recruit for the 2014-2015 season. The five-foot-seven defenceman spent 2013-2014 with the Winnipeg Avros of the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League (MFMHL), scoring 13 goals and 25 points in 28 regular season games.
"It was amazing to be honest," said Anderson of her recruitment. "Before this season, I didn’t play hockey too competitively. I played AA in bantam but after that I just played high school (West Kildonan Collegiate) and it’s a bit more of a slower pace.
"I didn’t really think any of this was possible for me, but when I started playing for the Avros, I started getting a lot better and then I started getting some offers from some smaller schools and I eventually got an offer from the Bisons and I just realized this can actually happen for me."
Anderson started playing hockey at age five, but only briefly, coming back to the sport when she was nine years old.
"I was a really small kid and it was a little bit too rough at the time, but I really missed it so I eventually got back into it at nine," Anderson said.
"I think I’m different than I was when I was kid. I’m a bit rougher now, I like the roughness. I guess I’m a bit of an offensive defenceman, but I still keep in mind the defensive part of the game and also the physical part of the game."
It’s those offensive instincts that convinced Bisons head coach Jon Rempel to recruit Anderson.
"She has a very unique skill set with her vision, her ability to make plays and just her offensive game, especially from the perspective of thinking down the road in terms of the power play," Rempel said.
"Her ability to make plays offensively and generate offence from the blue line is not something we’ve traditionally had a lot of success with here, and that’s originally what attracted me to her."
Rempel also said Anderson is a good passer and possesses a great shot. Still, Rempel said there’s plenty Anderson can improve on in her own zone.
"If she’s eventually going to be one of our go-to players, we’re going to have to spend some time working with her on a couple areas," Rempel said.
"One is defending around her net. That’s something she’ll have to really work on, and I think she’s cognizant of that. Also, I think in some ways her transition play going up and down the ice, taking faster players one-on-one, that’s an area where we’ll really spend some time with her and get her used to playing at this level."
Rempel said he has no doubt Anderson can be a great player at both ends of the ice.
"She was very new to the level that she played at this year and the success she had leads me to believe with the right mindset — and she’s a great kid, very hardworking — that she has an opportunity to do some great things," Rempel said.