Tag Archives: thunder

Six Seasons In The Making

Photo by Heather Pollock

If you’ve followed the Thunder for a while, Liz Knox and Dania Simmonds are familiar names. Both just completed their sixth season with the organization, playing together for five of those campaigns (Knox’s rookie year was a season before Simmonds’, but she took a year off to play overseas in Australia). During their tenure the Thunder’s level of success has fluctuated, but the passion for the game and the commitment to their teammates has never waivered.

“Coming to the Thunder was somewhat intimidating,” remembers Knox, “The team was star-studded and had a culture of respect that I knew was particularly unique to putting on that Thunder jersey.”

With names like Hefford, Apps, Dupuis, Fox, and Piper still playing, new players needed to maintain the competitiveness that defined the organization explained Knox.

“Over the years, especially since the retirement of the main core by 2013, we’ve progressed immensely,” says Simmonds. “We developed our team chemistry, systems, and attitude. It’s paid off.”

The past four seasons are a true testament to this. The Thunder went from missing out on the playoffs, to back-to-back seasons getting knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual Clarkson Cup champions, to claiming the organization’s first Clarkson Cup in franchise history.

Photo: Teri Di-Lauro
“Since last season’s loss in the playoffs, we were determined to play for each other and focus on what we could control,” recalls Simmonds.

Timing was everything – the team bought into the systems and grew stronger together as the season played out.

“It’s like a quiet confidence that comes every-so-often to a special group of people,” says Knox. “It’s hard for me to put into words, but I just knew we had what it would take.”

Of course, before the 2017-2018 season even started, a huge change came to the organization as it moved from Brampton to Markham. Both Knox and Simmonds are from York Region (Stouffville and Aurora, respectively), which added an extra dimension of significance.

“Having played my minor hockey here, it is nice to give back to this community,” Simmonds says.

Knox agrees, “My childhood hockey memories were made here. For Erica Howe to say that she wanted me to play our first game at home…it was a classy move by an amazing teammate. It kind of felt like my career came full circle.”

The City of Markham had hosted the Clarkson Cup before when the playoffs were still a tournament style, and had remained eager to bring a CWHL team into the area.

“It’s something we wanted for a long time, and as soon as the door opened a bit we blew it wide open,” says Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “Having the team here is a positive influence for girls hockey in the region; having the access and to be able to see these women first hand, to have the interactions with them, shows that if you work at it you too can play in the CWHL. It makes it real.”

The team feels the love right back.

Photo: Heather Pollock
“It’s incredible what Markham has done for us,” notes Knox, “From the support of Mayor Scarpitti to loyal fans and families that return every weekend – it’s surpassed our wildest dreams.”

Simmonds echoed this sentiment saying that the city has adopted the Thunder as a professional group of athletes, and has been along for the ride every step of the way.

Those last steps? Making the final push to the playoffs and the 2018 Clarkson Cup.

“We were crossing our fingers as they went into the playoffs against Montreal,” recalls Scarpitti. “We knew it would be a tough go, but they knocked them out!”

Simmonds, who was bestowed the honour of alternate captain this season, knew that in order to have success in Montreal during the playoffs some veteran advice was needed.

“Having been through a lot over the past six seasons, I told everyone to focus on the things we do well – thinking about things we couldn’t control had not worked out in the past,” Simmonds says. “The team kept a calm, disciplined demeanor which really impressed me.”

The win in Montreal meant that the Thunder would return to the Clarkson Cup Final for the first time since Knox’s rookie season.

“I was so young! On a personal level, I had a particularly hard year,” remembers Knox. “I went to Lori Dupuis, feeling somewhat defeated and asking her how I could possibly perform? I’ll never forget what she said, ‘Because you’re a world class athlete and that’s what we do.’”

So what advice did she give before the penultimate game of this season?

“Everything that brought each of us to this moment – every disappointment, heartbreak and obstacle that we faced as a team and as individuals happened for one reason. The reason was that game. We knew what we had to do.”

Mayor Scarpitti drinks out of the Clarkson Cup. Photo: Jess Ritchotte
Everyone watching from the stands or on Sportsnet across the country was on the edge of their seats, including Mayor Scarpitti.

“What a way to end the season, to finish it the way it started, against the Kunlun Red Star. To win in overtime in the way the goal was scored…I didn’t appreciate it live – I just jumped when I saw the light come on – but having gone back and watching the video, it was a beautiful pass and an amazing goal!”

For the Thunder, winning the organization’s second championship, but first ever Clarkson Cup was, “Indescribable,” says Simmonds. “After six years, with the support of all of Thunder Nation, from Brampton to Markham, it’s been a long time coming. I’m so happy to have reached our goal. ”

Has being a Clarkson Cup Champion sunk in yet?

“The thought stops me in the middle of my day sometimes,” Knox shares. “We’re Clarkson Cup Champions — Incredible.”

TORONTO — The Markham Thunder celebrate after winning the Clarkson Cup final by a score of 2-1 over Kunlun Red Star in overtime at Ricoh Coliseum. March 25, 2018
PHOTO: Chris Tanouye/The CWHL

Thunder Sign Free Agent Megan Bozek

MARKHAM, ON – Megan Bozek, all-star defender, Olympic silver medalist and Isobel Cup Champion, has signed with the Markham Thunder.

“I am very excited to get on the ice with the Thunder! When you are given a situation that is unexpected, you feel disappointed, discouraged, angry, sad, mad, and everything in between,” said Bozek. “But getting the chance to play in Markham with a great group of talented players – a handful that I have played with or against for years – is exciting! They bring energy and grit to every game, and I am looking forward to joining them on the run for the playoffs!”

With Thunder defence mainstays Jocelyne Larocque and Laura Fortino with Hockey Canada this season, Bozek brings her offensive prowess to the blue line. The last couple of seasons the Thunder have been very fortunate to have one of the strongest defence cores in the league which can be hard to maintain during Olympic years. With the Thunder facing several injuries this season, Bozek is coming in at a good time, especially as they make a push for playoffs in the second half. With a booming shot and quick puck movement, Bozek will be a threat in all zones.

Having played in both leagues and being a free agent, she was highly sought after by many teams. “I’m looking forward to seeing her wear the green this Saturday, and I have no doubt that she will put her mark on this organization early,” mentions General Manager, Chelsea Purcell. Adding an Olympian to the roster in an Olympic year is an opportunity that does not come around often, and Purcell knows how lucky the team is to bring Bozek on. “It’s definitely bittersweet. It’s never easy seeing a player losing the opportunity to go to the Olympics. You always want to see former or current CWHL players at the Games no matter what country they are representing. We are definitely very fortunate to be able to have her join the Thunder knowing she should be on that Olympic roster.”

The coaching staff also know that bringing a player of Bozek’s caliber is good for the entire team. “The experiences that Megan has as a player cannot be matched by many. NCAA Frozen Four Champion, World Champion, Olympic athlete, Isobel Cup Champion,” says assistant coach Candice Moxley, “She has grown as a player over the years and just keeps getting better.” Head coach Jim Jackson agrees that having a player who has excelled at all levels will have an immediate effect, “To bring in a player of Megan’s abilities will not only compliment our current team, but she also brings a strong work ethic, knowledge of the game and a will to win attitude.” As the Thunder make the final push towards the playoffs, assistant coach Kevin Stone knows this type of addition is coveted by all teams.  “We are entering a big part of our schedule and every team is looking for that additional piece of the puzzle. We found a difference maker.”

Purcell haralds the coaching staff for allowing players to continue to grow and learn. “Megan signing here shows the strength this team has, and that we can recruit top level players,” she noted. With Markham’s depth being tested with multiple player injuries and three players centralized with Team Canada, the coaches can’t wait to have Bozek hit the ice. “She adds many elements to our team that will mesh well with our systems. We are excited to put her into the mix,” said Moxley. Jackson added, “As a coach you want other players around her to raise their level of game and overall compete level.”

Having played with and against many of her new teammates should help Bozek feel at home quickly in Markham. She recently played with forward Devon Skeats and defender Lindsay Grigg with the Buffalo Beauts, and faced many as a member of the Toronto Furies. “Megan could have gone anywhere,” says Stone, “But she sees the opportunity to step in to help Markham (League leader in overtimes and one goal games) with the little push to put us over the top.”

Bozek will play her first game this Saturday, January 13th as the Thunder faceoff against the Vanke Rays. You can purchase tickets by visiting thecwhl.com/tickets.  For media inquires, please contact [email protected]

Follow Megan Bozek on twitter and instagram @meganebozek.

Photo Credit: USA Hockey

Markham Takes Two Points In Final Series Against Montréal

 

With the previous three games before this series against les Canadiennes needing extra time, it was fitting that two hard fought games to end the regular season series once again these teams needed more than 60 minutes.

Game One

Erica Howe and Emerance Maschmeyer faced off in goal for the first game of the weekend. Within the first minute the Thunder were on the power play as Karell Emard went to the box for tripping. With nothing materializing in the advantage, Montréal came back hard, forcing Howe to make key saves. Kristen Richards took a shot high on Maschmeyer, but the glove save was made. At the 7:44 mark, Jessica Hartwick sat for interference. With les Canadiennes on the power play, new squad member Erin Ambrose passed it to Cassandra Poudrier the shot bounced through traffic. It was Emard in front who would tip it in the back of the net to take the lead. Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Ann-Sophie Bettez connected with Emard who got the puck to Marion Allemoz and Montréal took a 2-0 lead. Howe bounced right back making a stellar blocker save, keeping her team very much still in the game. With 2.2 seconds left in the opening frame, Jamie Lee Rattray took a wrister that was snagged by the glove of Maschmeyer.

Markham came back from the intermission with guns blazing. After Rattray just misses the net, the Thunder found themselves with another early power play as Poudrier was called for tripping. Howe made a brilliant glove save on Katia Clement-Heydra who had blocked a shot and went streaking in short handed. At 13:50, Ambrose and Emard set up Bettez for Montréal’s third goal of the evening. The Thunder continued to pressure. Laura McIntosh has a good chance at the side of the net, but the puck hit the goalie’s mask and stayed out. With about five minutes remaining in the period, McIntosh received the puck at the blue line, waited for Rattray to enter the zone and sneak behind the defender. She received the puck and shot it over Maschmeyer’s pad on the backhand to make the score 3-1.

On the next shift, Sophie Brault was called for tripping and the Thunder went to the power play. Lindsay Grigg got the puck at the point, sending it down to McIntosh below the circle, who found Rattray alone at the side of the net to bring Markham within one. As the period wound down, Howe made some great saves to keep the score 3-2.

Teri Di-Lauro

The Thunder got another power play to open the period when Emard went to the box for slashing. It didn’t take long for Markham to tie the game. Rattray took the puck from the blue line and sauced it over to Richards as she came into the crease and flipped the puck shortside into the twine. After the ensuing faceoff, Richards got a penalty for hooking, giving les Canadiennes their first power play of the period. The penalty kill units and Howe did a great job shutting down Montréal. A few minutes later, the Thunder would return to the kill as Simmonds was sent off for body checking. Howe made some outstanding saves to keep her team in the game, but Grigg was flagged for cross checking and Montréal was given a 5-on-3 for 31 seconds. Taylor Woods laid down her body to block a shot, but les Canadiennes got the puck back and got it behind Howe to retake the lead. Markham would kill the remainder of the Grigg penalty with the help of a well positioned goal post. The Thunder continued to press, and with 1:46 left McIntosh passed the puck from behind the net out to Richards in the slot who put it top shelf on Maschmeyer to tie the game!

Within the last minute of the period, Howe kept the Thunder in the game by making key saves with tons of traffic in her crease. Richards went down to block a shot a the side of the net, and was called for delay of game as she had covered the puck. Les Canadiennes were put on the power play with 49 seconds left. Luckily, no goal was scored in the remainder of regulation, and we headed to another overtime frame.

With 1:09 left on the advantage, Montréal continued to press. Howe and the penalty kill unit were up to the task and Richards returned to the ice. After a couple of turnovers in the defensive zone, Emard connected with Kayla Tutino who put the puck shortside and won the game for Montréal.

Teri Di-Lauro

Game Two

Another goalie duel this afternoon, this time with Liz Knox in the net for Markham. The Thunder got out to a good start, clearing their zone soon after Montréal would enter it. Woods stripped Sarah Lefort of the puck, sending it down to Rattray at the other end of the ice. She would get a good scoring chance on Maschmeyer, but the puck didn’t hit the twine. Knox continued to make solid saves, one on a rolling puck making sure the rebound was covered quickly, and another with the blocker denying Bettez. A few minutes later, Dania Simmonds took a blast from the point. Richards tried to redirect the shot from in front of the net, but the save is made. As the period wound down, Karolina Urban was called for tripping. The frame would end scoreless, thanks to the brilliant work of Knox swing through traffic.

The Thunder started the second period by finishing off the penalty kill, and then heading to the power play. Chartrand sat for holding after hauling down McIntosh. The advantage didn’t last long, as Woods was also called for holding giving just under a minute of 4-on-4 play. McIntosh dangled around multiple Canadiennes players, but the puck rolled on her shot. When Chartrand returned to the ice, she blasted the puck from the blue line but it hit the post. Markham got the next power play when Desrochers was sent off for hooking at 8:29. Nothing materialized on the power play, and after Desrochers returned to the ice, Knox had to make several key saves. Unfortunately, 14:45 into the period Ambrose connected with Allemoz who shot the puck over Knox’s glove to put les Canadiennes ahead 1-0. Shortly after, with a great forecheck, Becca King got the puck behind Maschmeyer for the Thunder. After Markham lined up to faceoff at centre ice, the officials decided to call the goal back and sent King to the penalty box for goalie interference. The successful penalty kill ended the period.

The third frame started with lots of back and forth action. Montréal used their timeout, and came back blazing. Knox made more stellar saves including one where she reached back to cover the puck with players crashing the net. Around the halfway mark, Rattray took the puck in the offensive zone and sailed the puck over Maschmeyer to tie the game! After more back and forth, 60 minutes was not enough, and we headed to overtime.

The Thunder had many great scoring chances during the 4-on-4 five minute extra frame, but nothing went in. The final game in the regular season series with les Canadiennes would be decided by a shootout.

Teri Di-Lauro

 

Woods shot first for Markham and was stopped by Maschmeyer.

Katia Clement-Heydra was up next for Montréal, and scored on Knox.

Up next for the Thunder was Rattray, who was denied.

Bettez was next over the boards for les Canadiennes. Her shot went wide of the net.

McIntosh was the third shooter for Markham, but she could not get the puck past Maschmeyer. Montréal took the game 2-1.

Thunder add Candice Moxley to coaching staff

Candice Moxley has been appointed assistant coach of the Markham Thunder, joining head coach Jim Jackson, and assistant coach Kevin Stone. 

“Candice is a great addition to the Markham Thunder organization and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, as she brings a strong hockey background of coaching and teaching at all levels to the CWHL. We are very fortunate to have candice join our coaching staff.  Welcome aboard!”

– Jim Jackson, head coach

“Candice will be a great assest to our staff. She used to be on staff with a great friend of mine and he raves about her knowledge of the game. Thunder Nation is lucky to have her.”

– Kevin Stone, assistant coach

Moxley  served as the Head Coach for Buffalo State Women’s Division III hockey team for the past four seasons.  Moxley led the Bengals to the ECAC West playoffs for the first time in six years during her first season behind the bench, and was named ECAC West Coach of the Year in 2015.  Under Moxley, the Buffalo State Bengals won a program-best 35 games in the past two seasons (35-16-2) and has made four-consecutive postseason appearances, including earning its first-ever postseason victory last season. 

She has also worked as a video coach with Hockey Canada’s women’s development team from 2013-2015.   Prior to Buffalo State, Moxley spent two seasons as an assistant coach at The Ohio State University and two years as an assistant at Robert Morris University, both are NCAA division I programs.

A native of Markham, Ontario, Moxley was a four-year player at Division I Niagara from 2001-05 and played Women’s professional hockey for 3 years in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).  Moxley has also been a member of Canadian Women’s Inline team and Canadian Women’s Ball Hockey team competing internationally at world’s tournaments.

Storming Into The CWHL: Draft Advice From The Thunder’s Class of 2016

Laura Stacey    Photo: Jess Bazal/CWHL

Playing in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League is a great achievement.      Getting here takes years of practicing, playing, dedication, and teamwork – but first you must enter the CWHL Draft.

We asked some members of our 2016-2017 rookie class to give their insights on the Draft, and on their first years in the League. Get ready for some sage   advice from Nicole Brown, Jessica Hartwick, Melissa Wronzberg, and the 2016-2017 CWHL Rookie of the Year, Laura Stacey!

……………

 

Question: Why did you enter the CWHL Draft?

Nicole Brown    Photo: Jess Bazal/CWHL

Nicole Brown: I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life after graduating college. All I knew was that I wasn’t ready to hang up the skates, I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself if I were to not have joined the Draft. The CWHL is the highest level of female hockey and seemed like a good transition from college hockey, while being a lot of fun.

Jessica Hartwick: After I graduated from Ryerson University, I felt like I wasn’t ready to quit hockey. I have been playing since I was six years old so it’s      something that has become entrenched in my life, something that I’m not sure how to give up.

Laura Stacey: I entered the CWHL Draft because I wanted to continue playing hockey after college, and to play against the best female hockey players in North America.

Melissa Wronzberg: I entered the Draft last year because I was not ready to quit playing hockey at a high level. I thought the chance to play in the CWHL with, and against some of the best players in the world, would be an amazing experience if I was able to make a team.

 

Q: What is your favourite memory from your first season?

Brown: My favourite memory would have to be winning in overtime in Montreal. We overcame a lot of adversity, and had so much fun doing it.

Hartwick: I’d say that I really enjoyed all of our road trips – It was a good break from work and it was fun to be with everyone!

Stacey: My favourite memory from my rookie season with the Brampton Thunder is our trip to Montreal for the playoffs. Even though we did not win a game that weekend and we lost our first playoff series, we never gave up and battled to the very end. The team camaraderie and belief we had in one another was something I have never experienced before, and will never forget.

Melissa Wronzberg   Photo: John Morrison/CWHL

Wronzberg: Playing with the girls on Brampton it is hard to pick a favourite memory as it was always a good time coming to the rink. Making the Brampton Thunder was an incredible memory for me because I wasn’t sure if it would happen, and it showed that my hard work paid off. My first game was also an incredible memory as it was the team’s first win of the season. Lastly, getting to play and score my first career goal on my birthday was a memory that I will never forget – especially because of the excitement that the team showed for me getting that goal as well!

 

Q: What advice would you give for those entering the Draft?

Brown: Have fun, because you only get drafted once. Oh, and don’t trip walking up to get your picture taken after your name is called!

Jessica Hartwick   Photo: Jess Bazal/CWHL

Hartwick: Be prepared to be the most exhausted you have ever been in your entire life. School was definitely tough and tiresome, but there is no comparison to working 35-40 hours a week, on top of commuting to the rink four times a week. Thankfully I still love hockey!

Stacey: The advice I would have for someone entering the Draft is to enjoy every second; it is a very special moment to be drafted into a professional women’s hockey league! It is something that we all dreamed of when we were kids so take in every moment, and make the most of it!

Wronzberg: Have fun, enjoy the moment, and remember that the Draft is just the beginning!

 

 

Registration for the 2017 CWHL Draft closes at midnight (ET) on August 1st, 2017.  For more information please, click here.