After a monster season, Winnipeg's Tatiana Rafter scooped up one of Canadian university hockey's top honours, earning the award for Canada West player of the year.
Just minutes after learning of the award on Wednesday, the fourth-year University of British Columbia Thunderbirds forward was buzzing.
"One of my teammates told me, 'Hey, go check on Twitter,' " Rafter said from Vancouver. "I logged on and saw it, and I was like, 'Oh my God.' It means a lot to me, just because I know I worked so hard this past year. It's pretty validating to all the hard work I've done."
Rafter, who grew up in Winnipeg and now studies gender, race and international relations at UBC, was also named to the Canada West first all-star team.
The selection was something of a no-brainer. Rafter exploded offensively this season, hammering opponents to the tune of 20 goals and 18 assists in just 28 games.
She opened a vast lead in the Canada West scoring race, finishing seven points ahead of second-place finisher Cami Wooster of the Saskatchewan Huskies. More, she led the conference in power-play goals with nine, tied for first with two shorthanded strikes, and six of her 20 goals were game-winners.
It was a heck of a season, and it started in the summer. That's when Rafter, a Balmoral Hall alumna, decided to stay in Vancouver to train harder than she ever had before.
"I wanted to leave no doubt that I put in all the effort that I could," Rafter said. "And trust in my preparation, I think that was a huge thing. I felt prepared going into every game and every series, more than I ever have. It was a mental and a physical thing that I was able to accomplish."
Boeing Indoor Classic coming up
Though the snow is still on the ground, the indoor tracks are about to heat up in Winnipeg this weekend as the Boeing Indoor Classic track meet gets underway.
Now in its 33rd year, the two-day event kicks off on Friday and runs through Saturday at the Max Bell Field House at the University of Manitoba. The event will pit top athletes from Manitoba against competitors from Saskatchewan and Ontario. There will be events for athletes of all ages, from entry-level participants right up to national team athletes.
The Boeing Indoor Classic has a long history in Manitoba. It was launched in 1981, when there was no permanent indoor running facility, so organizers set up an indoor wooden track in a Gimli airport hangar. Since then, as many as 23,000 medals have been awarded, and tens of thousands of athletes have participated.
Bison hockey gals earn honours
Five University of Manitoba Bisons women's hockey players were awarded conference honours on Wednesday, with four getting a nod to the all-star teams.
Defender Caitlin MacDonald and forward Kyleigh Palmer were selected as Canada West first-team all-stars, while forward Meagan Vestby was named to the second all-star team. It was a perfect note to go out on for MacDonald and Palmer, who are both closing their university hockey careers as fifth-year Bisons. MacDonald tied for the league lead in goals by a blue-liner, with six, and Palmer's 29 points led the Bisons in scoring and ranked third in all of Canada West.
Meanwhile, it was the first conference all-star selection for Vestby, a fourth-year Bison. The Swan River, Man., product had her best offensive season to date, putting up eight goals and 15 assists through 28 games to sit second in Bisons scoring.
On the younger end of the roster, 18-year-old blue-liner Caitlin Fyten was named to the Canada West all-rookie team. Fyten, who hails from Cremona, Alta., notched eight points through the season, tied for eighth in Canada West rookie scoring.
Finally, outgoing Bisons captain Amy Lee was made the Canada West nominee for the Marion Hilliard CIS Student-Athlete Award, after a year which saw her rack up success on the ice, where she scored 22 points, and in the classroom, where she put up big marks in the faculty of environmental studies. The fifth-year athlete also helps mentor young female hockey players and volunteers with a wide range of sport and community initiatives.
Arruda named to all-rookie team
The future is bright for the Bison men's basketball team in forward Andre Arruda, who pushed his way onto the Canada West all-rookie team.
Arruda, 20, started all 22 games in his rookie campaign with the Bisons and led the team in scoring, averaging 13.8 points per game. That was good for 17th in all of Canada West, and fifth in conference three-pointer percentage at .420. A former Garden City Fighting Gopher, Arruda also led the Bisons with 26 steals and gobbled up an average of 5.5 rebounds per game, good for second on the team.
Wesmen's Wesley an all-star
Winnipeg Wesmen basketball co-captain Steven Wesley is going out with a bang, earning a selection to the Canada West first all-star team.
Wesley, whose college hoops career came to an end in a quarter-final loss against Victoria last weekend, averaged 17.3 points per game to sit seventh in conference scoring, and averaged 7.1 rebounds per game. A 6-6 forward originally from Washington State, Wesley was a workhorse for the Wesmen, playing 31 minutes per game. He marked a season-high 30 points in one tilt against Calgary in November, and put up four double-doubles during the season.
"We are proud of Steven's efforts this season and during his time with the Wesmen. He has worked hard and plays the game with a great passion," said Wesmen men's basketball coach Mike Raimbault. "To see him rewarded for his efforts is a pleasure."
DeJonckheere a CIS all-star
Bisons men's volleyball outside hitter Adam DeJonckheere turned heads in his rookie campaign and was honoured at the national level.
DeJonckheere, 18, was named to the CIS's all-rookie team on Wednesday, after turning in a stellar season that saw him sit second on the Bisons for kills, with 28, and points, with 320.5. He also delivered 16 service aces, good for third on the team, and made 141 blocks while playing in all 89 season sets against Canada West opponents. He came to the Bisons after graduating from St. Paul's High School in Winnipeg.
The selection marks the second year in a row the Bisons have had a player named to the CIS all-rookie team, following Kenny Rooney's nod in 2012-13.
-- Melissa Martin