Cougars hockey players bound for World University Games

By Costa Maragos Posted: January 21, 2017 7:00 a.m.

The first U of R Cougars Women’s hockey players to join Team Canada at Winter Universiade are (l-r) Kylie Gavelin, Jaycee Magwood and Alexis Larson.
The first U of R Cougars Women’s hockey players to join Team Canada at Winter Universiade are (l-r) Kylie Gavelin, Jaycee Magwood and Alexis Larson. Photo - External Relations

For the first time, members of the Cougars women's hockey team will be at the world’s biggest stage for university sports.

Three members - Kylie Gavelin, Alexis Larson and Jaycee Magwood - are now on their way to play for Team Canada at Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan January 29 to February 8.
 
This event features university athletes from around the world and is organized by the Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU). The Universiade games (winter and summer) are considered among the largest sporting events in the world and are held every two years. About 2,000 athletes will be in Kazakhstan for the winter games.

To be the first Cougars to play hockey at this world event is quite something.

“It’s a complete honour. I don’t even know how to describe it,” says Alexis Larson, who plays defence and now in her fifth year with the Cougars. Larson is originally from Weyburn and will convocate with a nursing degree this spring. “It’s not something I ever thought was really possible. But when we found out this summer that we made the team we were just completely beside ourselves. We’re so honoured to be able to represent the university like this, Saskatchewan like this and our country like this.”

Larson’s teammate, Jaycee Magwood, is a forward and a second-year member of the Cougars. She’s from Killarney, Manitoba and enrolled in the faculty of kinesiology and health studies.

“I’m excited. It is a dream come true to represent CIS and Canada,” says Magwood.

Magwood, Gavelin and Larson were invited to try out for the national team at a development camp last summer. Also at that camp was Cougar’s head coach, Sarah Hodges. Her role was the team leader.  

“This is the first time our program has been represented at the FISU games, and to be represented by three in one year is amazing,” says Hodges. “It speaks to the work ethic and dedication of these three young women and I think it's an indication that we are attracting and developing great student-athletes within our program. I know that they will represent Canada and the U of R with pride and I hope that they inspire more Cougars to strive for this in the future.”
 
The Cougars are part of a 22-player roster with eight of the players from the Canada West conference. Canada will compete in Group A against China, Great Britain, and Kazakhstan.  

“It’s amazing. It’s a great feeling,” says forward Kylie Gavelin, a Campion arts student and a fifth-year forward originally from Mankota, Saskatchewan.

“Just being around the girls. That will be the best part. Just being able to travel and have my family over there as well. It will be amazing," she says.

Team Canada is hoping for a measure of redemption at these games. The team lost to Russia in the gold medal game in 2015. Back home, the Cougars are gearing up for another playoff run in the Canada West Conference. Please visit here for tickets to the next home game.