With 12 rookies joining the roster this season, the 2019-20 edition of the Gee-Gees women's hockey team is set to be one of the youngest in recent memory.
A mixture of speed, skill and size is evident throughout the line-up, and the team expects to be exciting to watch too — even if they experience some growing pains along the way.
"It's going to be challenging for us this season if you're only looking at performances, but we're really excited to see where this team can bring us," said head coach Yanick Evola. "We should be really exciting to watch — we're fast, we're using our size the right way and if we can stay together and focus on the process, it should be an interesting season for us."
With wins in four of five games during the preseason, fifth-year captain Mélina Roy is excited by what she's seen from the group so far.
"Good results, we're focusing on the process. We have nice chemistry, preseason is to create that, so it's encouraging," Roy said.
Jade Todd is one of the newcomers eager to make her regular season debut. Her first goal while wearing Garnet and Grey stood as the game winner in an exhibition victory against the Vermont Catamounts of the NCAA.
"I feel really good, I feel really excited for the season. I think we're going to be a really strong team this year, which is super exciting," Todd enthused.
"I've been looking forward to this for the last year-and-a-half, so it's really exciting to finally be on the ice with everyone."
Generating offence was at times challenging for the Gee-Gees last season. The team averaged 1.55 goals per game in the 2018-19 regular season.
In the preseason this year the team nearly doubled that average, with 18 goals scored across five games.
Rookie Arianne Aubin in particular make an immediate impact with a four-point effort in a 4-1 victory over the Carleton Ravens in the preseason.
Overall the newcomers strengthen the depth of the forwards corps throughout the line-up, ensuring opponents will need to be prepared for waves of Gee-Gees attacks on a nightly basis.
Ottawa's blueline is also capable of chipping in on offence. Roy's seven points last season tied for fourth-most by a defenseman in the RSEQ, while Christine Deaudelin chipped in six assists. Both will be logging big minutes this season.
"We have some excellent leadership on defence, some older players helping our younger ones to learn the game and the system at the U Sports level," Evola stressed. "It's a good mixture, it will be tough for us later to make some line-up decision because we're well balanced everywhere."
In the crease, the Gee-Gees have plenty of fresh faces eager to prove themselves this season.
Dubuc had the lion's share of the starts in the preseason and best showcased her skills in a 33-save shutout performance against Vermont.
"She had a tougher game against Nipissing and she came back hard, played solid for us the last couple games, especially in Vermont," Evola noted. "She showed she had character, came back hard. Her success, I can attribute to her work ethic. She's doing extra work off-ice, she at the top level in practice and you can see the results in game."
The Garnet and Grey will open the season on the road on October 20 at Concordia. A week later, the Gee-Gees will return to the Minto Sports Complex for their home opener on October 27 versus the reigning RSEQ champions, the Montreal Carabins.
The annual Alerts Cup against the cross-town rival Carleton Ravens is slated for November 3 at Carleton.