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Alberta Pandas forward Podloski named CIS women's hockey player of the year

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ANTIGONISH, N.S. - Alberta forward Tarin Podloski, who collected a record 61 points this season, is the player of the year in Canadian university women's hockey.

The right-winger from St. Albert, Atla., set a CIS single-season points record with 23 goals and 38 assists in 24 conference games. A former member of the Canadian under-22 national team and the MVP of the 2006 CIS championship, the 22-year-old agriculture and forestry student led the Pandas to a 22-2 mark and first place in the Canada West standings.

Podloski, the fifth Panda to capture the Brodrick Trophy, was also named a CIS first time all-star.

"Tarin is an exceptional student-athlete," said Pandas coach Howie Draper. "She commits herself to being the best she can be in both the classroom and hockey. More than that, however, Tarin has emerged as an outstanding leader. Her ability to support, counsel and motivate her teammates has been remarkable this season and was an important part of the development of this year's team."

Draper also came away from Wednesday's awards with some hardware as he was named coach of the year. McGill's Marie-Andree Leclerc-Auger of Sherbrooke, Que., who was honoured as the top rookie while Ottawa's Danika Smith of Munster Hamlet, Ont., received the Marion Hillard award recognizing her excellence in hockey, academics and community involvement.

Draper, the first three-time recipient of the CIS coach-of-the-year award, led the Pandas to a first-place finish in Canada West with a 22-2 record. Since the Pandas inaugural campaign in 1997-98, Draper has led the team to a record six national titles and 10 CIS championship appearances.

Leclerc-Auger recorded 18 goals and 28 assists points in 18 regular-season games to rank fourth in the CIS and second in the Quebec conference. Her performances helped the defending national champion Martlets to an 18-0 record in conference play and a 33-0 overall record against CIS opponents going into this week's CIS championship tournament.

"Marie-Andree has made a huge impact in the league in her freshman year," said McGill head coach Peter Smith. "She has the rare combination of being a natural goal scorer mixed with great play-making skills. A measure of consistency, she is one of our strongest players, both physically and mentally."

Smith, a fifth-year defenceman, is finishing up a master's degree in sport psychology in addition to chairing the Ottawa student-athlete council, which among many community enhancement initiatives, sends kids from neighbouring French and English elementary schools to Gee-Gees summer camps. She also assists with the Gee-Gees Running and Reading program for inner-city Ottawa youth to experience the benefits of physical activity and nutrition awareness in addition to expanded knowledge through reading.

Joining Podloski on the first CIS squad were McGill teammates goaltender Charline Labonte of Boisbriand, Que., defenceman Catherine Ward of Mt. Royal, Que., and forward Ann-Sophie Bettez of Sept-Iles, Que. Rounding out the first team were Wilfrid Laurier blue-liner Andrea Bevan of Collingwood, Ont., and Moncton forward Marieve Provost of Laval, Que.

The CIS championship gets underway Thursday. The gold medal game is set for Sunday.

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