One of the most successful careers in the history of the Manitoba Women’s Junior Hockey League has come to a close.
Samantha Frost of the Manitoba Blizzard finished her four-year run in the league by winning the most valuable player award for a third time. The 21-year-old was named the league’s top defenceman in her first three seasons — she played part of this year at forward and wasn’t nominated—and was rookie of the year in 2008-09.
"I got a text saying I won, and I was more surprised than anything," Frost said. "You don’t expect to win… but it’s a nice gesture to get."
The University of Winnipeg student, who lives in Stony Mountain, clearly had the ability to play college hockey, but chose instead to focus on her studies after high school.
"I want to go into med school, and I don’t want to be in school my entire life," she said. "I wanted to have fun, and (the MWJHL) lets me have fun. It’s not as time consuming as university hockey."
Doug Orchard has coached Frost for all four of her junior years, and has seen both her on-ice abilities and off-ice leadership steadily improve.
"She matured for sure," Orchard said. "When she came into the league she was only 18 years old and a very quiet young lady. She was good then, but once her confidence went up she could control the game as a forward or a defenceman."
Frost played forward throughout her minor hockey career, but made the switch to the blue-line in order to increase her chances of making the provincial team. She led the Blizzard to a league championship in her first season, and dominated games from the back end.
This year, Orchard was looking for a little more offence, and Frost offered to switch positions with a teammate who was looking to move back to defence from forward. The switch worked well, as Frost finished second in the league in scoring with 27 points in 23 games. The Blizzard advanced to the league final, but lost in two games to the Prairie Blaze.
"It took her a bit (to adjust)," Orchard said, "but because she’s such a good player she understood the game at forward quickly."
Frost said she enjoyed the change, although she did feel lost on the ice at times. The Blizzard was a young team this season, and Frost is going to miss having the chance to see that raw talent develop.
"I think we had a good year," she said. "We had some good players join the team that will be great assets over the next couple years."
In her four years in the MWJHL, Frost has seen the talent level increase dramatically.
"There’s most girls trying out, and the league is getting more recognition," she said. "When you’re surrounded by good players, you’re only going to get better."