The West Kildonan Collegiate Wolverines are currently sharpening their claws in preparation for this year’s Winnipeg Women’s High School Hockey League (WWHSHL) season.
A pre-season division alignment tournament put the Wolverines in the Winnipeg Free Press B Division, where they will face off against such teams as the Miles Mac Buckeyes, the Shaftesbury Titans and the PCI Saints.
"It’s a great group of girls this year," Wolverines coach Jennifer Jonsson says. "We have 15 players and they range in ability from a few AA players, A players, ringette players and a few girls who have never played hockey before, so it will be a rebuilding year."
The Wolverines entered the WWHSHL four years ago in Division B and spent three seasons in the CTV A Division. Jonsson says the bump back down to B won’t phase the team.
"The Wolverines are always fighters and they battle hard," Jonsson says. "They’re a great group of girls who are really dedicated to becoming strong hockey players and they have a great work ethic and team mentality."
Jonsson says the team has been practising hard, mostly working on skills development, but is starting to look at strategic systems as well.
"We’ll take care of business in our defensive end and then focus on offence when our defence is solid," she says.
About half of the Wolverines are returning from the 2012-13 season, including stars Destyni Chiborak and Mackenzie Neapew, who finished first and third respectively in team scoring last season.
As for rookies, Jennifer Jonsson says the team has a promising young goaltender.
"We have a goalie from Garden City Collegiate, Sammy Bruce Kriebel. She’s in Grade 9. Garden City doesn’t have a team so that’s why we were able to get her to play with us," Jonsson says.
This is Jonsson’s fifth year coaching the Wolverines. The 29-year-old Ashern, Man. native played on a scholarship for Minnesota State University for four years.
Jonsson says her coaching style is simple.
"My style is just work ethic, to work hard," Jonsson says. "I love being the underdog who may not be the most skilled, but because of work ethic and heart you’re able to capitalize on game opportunities. You’re playing as a team and working hard, just going for it."
The Wolverines’ first game is on Oct. 15 against the CLC Scorpions at River East Arena (1410 Rothesay St.), which also serves as the Wolverines’ home rink. The puck drops at 3:25 p.m.
For more on the WWHSHL, go to www.wwhshl.ca