“It was a lot of fun to come in towards rhe end of the season there, and kind of make a push for the play-offs, which was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it” Photo by Bryan Johnson

LAUREL HILL: A THREE PART SYMPHONY


If you followed the Whale at all during Season Five, you will recall that they were compromised on defense by injury. Starting out the season a ltlle light on the blue line, injuries to Erin Hall and Jordan Brickner put a lot of strain on our remaining defender by misplaced-season. Hanna Beattie moved from forward back to defense.and did a great job, but some more numbers were needed. As the new year started, the help had arrived, and on of them our #20 Laurel Hill, from Huntsville, Ontario. Laurel arrived with a splash, and her first two games skating for the Whale were victories for the Pod. And in her second game, our 2-1 shoot-out road win vs the Riveters , she had her first NWHL point on our only regulation goal. Cetacean Nation had an opportunity to chat with Laurel recently, and found that her life was a three part symphony, consisting of hockey, miusic and healthcare. So let’s listen to what that sounds like in Laurel's own words.

Before the pandemic, Laurel was living and working in Connecticut, and we asked how and where she is dealing with the situation. She explained

“So, kind of early on I found it was important to stay home from work if it wasn’t essential. So I’ve been trying to make the most of the opportunity and give s little bit more to social media. I am a physical therapist, so one of the things I’m passionate about is educating people on staying active and healthy. So I’ve been doing some daily, short movement base things that you can do. I know a lot of people are stuck in their homes right now, maybe sitting more than they’re used to. So I set a timer and do a few movements to keep you active though the day. So I’ll just try to put some more posts together, keep myself busy, and I enjoy doing it."(Laurel has some really cool and fun videos laurel.hill.dpt) “

Laurel continued “And I’ve been back in Canada where my family is, to spend some time, which has been kind of nice. But, that made me have to be in quarantine for fourteen days! .So I finally got out of that, which is pretty exciting. We have a basement, it’s not that bad, but it’s a little bit chilly down here. It’s nice to be back and on the regular floor where it’s a little bit warmer. It’s also been uncharacteristically cold since I’ve been home. We had a bunch of snow the last few days and it’s been below freezing for awhile. And it’s April! It’s a beautiful spot, I loved growing up here, lots of lakes and outdoor stuff to do. It’s been a good place to grow up for sure."

The DPT that you see attached to Laurel’s name stands for Doctor of Physical Therapy. We asked her if any of her work could be done remotely. She told us

“For me it’s kind of been suspended. I know the clinic I’m working for is still trying to serve patients, and do so more on a virtual basis when possible. So that is happening, but they have had a very large decrease in the number of patients that are seeking care right now. So not everyone is continuing to do that stuff. So I kind of took it upon myself to see what I could do from a social media standpoint. So,posting when I’m at home and providing what I can, but not officially for the company I’m working for.”

That led us to ask about Laurel’s interest in fitness, and she mentioned that it also includes an interest in CrossFit, and she explained how she came to be involved in that.

“It was 2014 when I finished my collegiate career (at Saint Norbert in Wisconsin). And that spring, me and a couple of teammates were wanting to do something and stay active, because we didn’t train for hockey anymore. So one of my teammates had recently tried a CrossFit, so she got me onto trying it, and I’ve kind of been doing it on and off ever since. But that’s definitely kept me in pretty decent shape over the years, and in some ways, I would say I am more fit than I was, even playing everyday in college, so that’s definitely been helpful. And certainly helpful leading in to playing this year, when I hadn’t been playing for a while."

In fact, befire joining the Pod, Laurel had last played hockey in the CWHL, and we asked how that came about. She recounted 

"As I was at Saint Norbert, I really grew as a player, having the opportunity to play every single day. And my development from freshman year to my junior and senior year was pretty significant I think, because of that. By my senior year I absolutely loved hockey. I mean I always did, but I felt like I was at the top of my game. And I couldn’t imagine being the best I’ve ever been, and not playing anymore. So it wasn’t really until towards the end of that season, that I started thinking should or could I keep playing next year? And so I decided to see what those options were, and potentially take a year off between undergrad and graduate school, and keep playing keep playing hockey. So that is when I looked into the CWHL, and eventually made it on to the Toronto team, which was very exciting. I really didn’t know what to expect, coming from a DIII school and playing with players who were considered very high caliber, and they certainly are. But that was a pretty awesome opportunity to play, and torealize that I can play with those players and contribute to the team a bit, and just have fun with them. So that was a pretty cool opportunity.”

Laurel continued “So the first season was definitely challenging, as much as it was an amazing opportunity that I enjoyed. It was very different from the college set-up I guess you could say, In college you’re practicing everyday and playing more frequently, to then go to where you are only practicing a couple of hours a week, and you’re not as familiar with your teammates necessarily. And then just the mental side of the game was more difficult for me. I think it really challenged my ability to be confident in myself. It certainly wasn’t that I got into this league and it was the best year ever of my hockey career. It was definitely challenging, but I enjoyed it a lot. And I think since having that experience, I’ve grown a lot as an individual and as a player. To hone my skills without relying on others to keep my confidence high, I think that’s a really important part of the game that can sometimes be overlooked. To be mentally ready for whatever challenges come throughout the season".

 “And then my second year I ended up tearing my ACL towards the beginning of te season, I can’t remember how many games I played, so that was kind of a bummer. It was the second season, I was gaining a little more confidence, playing a little more, and I felt like I used to while playing. And then I tore my ACL, so that season ended a little shorter than I wanted or expected. But It helped me make that transition into being a little more academically minded again, getting into a doctorate program and going to school.It probably would have been hard to leave hockey without having to leave hockey, if that makes sense.” Spoken like a true athlete, and it certainly makes sense to us.”

Since Laurel played in the CWHL with Toronto, and is Canadian, Cetacean Nation was curious what she thought of the NWHL expanding with the Toronto franchise. She replied

" It’s pretty exciting news! I think it’s really awesome to see the NWHL growing, and expanding. And Toronto is definitely a hockey city, so it makes sense to expand there and I’m kind of excited to see where that goes. We had the opportunity to play in the MasterCard Centre, which is where the Toronto Maple Leafs practice ice rink is. It was a really beautiful rink that we played in. We had our own locker room, which was pretty nice as well. And we certainly had some good fans out there, a lot of young girls who are playing hockey came out,so it was a lot of fun.”

Laurel just mentioned the little girls playing hockey in Toronto, so we asked how little Laurel got her start in the sport in Huntsville.

“Way back when I was a kid, my Dad and I used to watch the Saturday night hockey, Hockey Night in Canada. I don’t really know how old I was, maybe five or so. I was second oldest in my family, my older sister was into dancing, not really sports oriented necessarily. But for whatever reason, I loved watching hockey with my Dad, and started telling him: Dad, I want to play hockey! He told me that he was going to sign me up for figure skating, but I told him I wanted to play hockey, and he signed me up for hockey! And then also just growing up in a Canada, we always had a little pond near our property somewhere, or a lake. So I started to skate, I don’t even know, as I was walking I guess I was on the ice. I learned how to skate on the pond, and then said: Dad, I gotta start playing hockey” So then he signed me up.I think I was seven when I finally got to play, and Ivs been playing pretty much ever since.”

Laurel continued  “Huntsville is about two hours north of Toronto, a small town, so there was not a lot of girls playing. So I grew up playing with guys, and started out kind of more in just house leagues as a kid. I don’t think I”ve ever put on the goalie pads, which is kind of surprising. I’ve always played as a skater, but I’m not sure when I decided that I prefer defense, but I think it was when I was playing house league.I just kind of preferred that position where you can see more of the play and control,what happens, I liked that. I”ve been on defense most of my career I would say. “I didn”t necessarily have ambitions to play on a rep team. And then one year there was kind of a conflict between playing in the hose league and playing cello. I grew up playing cello, and we’d have cello group,on Saturday or something, so my Dad looked into me playing on a rep team.”

Note: As defined by Hocket Canada: Rep (Representative) hockey is the highest calibre of hockey available in any given association. Rep teams typically have 11 to 15 players who represent the more skilled and talented players in their age group. Rep hockey is a fast-paced, highly-competitive level of hockey that offers exceptional players a challenge.


Laurel
 added  “And from there I realizeed I really enjoyed playing at a higher level, competitive mindset of hockey. I played on the guys rep team for a while until bantam/midget, then I started traveling so I could play on girl’s .teams. It was a hour and fifteen minutes away to the nearest decent girl’s hockey team. “ Laurel laughed So, lots of traveling over the years!” I certainly appreciate the time they (my parents) took to drive me, but especially with my Mom, she did a lot of the driving, it gave a lot of really good quality time for us. We were able to talk, and just enjoy time in the car, it was kind of a blessing as well.” 

Laurel's hockey roots in Huntsville, Ontario

 Laurel added “They had an A team and an AE team So I was always on the AE team. But I remember the first year I tried out, I really wanted to be on the A team, and they told me I was on the AE team, which was still a great thing but it kind of crushed me a little bit inside. But I think,it was probably the right team for me to be on. I don’t know if that’s different with US vs Canada, or how those leagues are. The house league was just you sign up, everyone make a team, but the rep,team you had to try out for and travel to different towns, to play their team.”

Laurel as you can begin to see, played a lot of hockey growing up, including for her local high school. But that wasn’t her main competitive venue. She disclosed

"Huntsville is a really small town, not super tiny but it’s pretty small. And so we had a hockey team at the high school, but it was not really a full team. There was a handful of girls who played so we could put together a team. I think in Canada, your main team is usually your travel team, and then you play school team as well for fun. Especially in the smaller towns, because those teams aren’t going to be great. So I did play high school hockey, but more for fun than anything, and at the same time I was playing for the Barrie Sharks. I’m trying to remember the timeline, because I played for the Orillia Hawks as well.At that point I was playing guy’s hockey in Huntsville, and Orillia Hawks, and I did that for a couple of years. And then I moved on to Barrie, I think in Midget, when the gipuys were gettinfpg a little too big to be checking against that was kind of my transition.”

Cetacean Nation also wondered if Laurel had played any other sports growing up? And she informed us

“In the summer I played soccer, I guess I started soccer earlier than hockey, I was like five. And I played that up through high school, I enjoyed playing soccer. But it never was something I was really great at, and it wasn’t my passion either. So that was more of a fun, stay active through the summer, and a change from hockey. I certainly enjoyed it, but hockey was my passion, and what I wanted to do. I think there’s a lot of value in playing multiple sports as you grow up. It gives your body something else to get used to and makes you a little more well rounded.There’s definitely a benefit in exposing your muscles to a variety of challenges. And also just mentally, it kind of gives you that break from one thing over and over again, and potentially reaching a burnout before the season begins or part way through the season. I think it’s definitely a good thing, although there’s nothing wrong with practicing hockey through summer, practicing your skills, especially if it’s something you enjoy. But giving some variety in there I think is a good thing.. Even in my own experience, I didn’t end up following through with soccer necessarily but that’s still something I could go out there and play. I’d actually like to get back into it this summer if I can, just to have fun. It’s not as serious as hockey, so it kind of keeps it lighthearted, and you don’t have to worry about things as much, just go out and have fun.”


So we asked f that meant Laurel took part in the soccer keep it up circles before the games? “Definitely, that’s one of my favorite parts! Everyone’s got their routines, but it’s a lot of fun. Depends on who you compare me to determining if I’m good or not but I can keep, it up a little bit. You have to keep it in and fun in a pregame warm-up.”

Athletics wasn't the only area that Laurel got an early start in. There was also her music. Laurel revealed

“I think when I was about five, my Mom got me playing cello. She really valued learning an instrument for all of the kids in our family. My older sister played the violin, and she thought I would be better with an instrument where I could sit down.” Then laughing she added “so I ended up with the cello. But I absolutely love the sound of the cello and I played and took lessons from age five up through high school. And I did a couple of certifications and exams you have to do, but since university, and life, I haven’t played as much. But it’s kind of nice to have it sitting out and every once and awhile give it tune-up and play a bit. And when I was seven, all the kids in my family also played the piano for a bit. I didn’t play the piano as much or as long as I played the cello. I kind of preferred the cello as my instrument, so I played a bit of that. My Dad always played guitar, so the guitar was just an instrument I really enjoyed. I’m not very great at playing the guitar, but I do enjoy playing for fun. Music has definitely been a part of my life and it’s a great way to develop some creativity as a kid, it’s a good thing to appreciate. I’m very thankful for all the lessons I was put through, and learning that side of life.”

Cetacean Nation was curious if Laurel found any synergy between athletics and music, and she gave us this fascinating reply.

"I think one of the values or lessons that it (music) taught me was the importance of really practicing. And not just practicing by playing a song, but by picking the song apart and practicing a piece of the song that you need to work on, breaking things down and practicing in an intentional manner, which obviously was guided by my teachers. But that kind of translated into schoolwork, or hockey, where instead of just going out and playing shinny, you’re actually practicing skills, or taking the time to practice your shot or stickhandle. Ans I think I’ve probably seen that pay off in cello when I was young. It helped me learn that if I do this at school or when I was playing hockey, and take the time outside our regular practice time to work on skills, that’s going to, pay off on the ice. Yes, I think there are definitely lessons that translated over.”

So we had to ask if Laurel brought the cello to Texas when she went to grad school.

"I did. I wasn’t sure about bringing the cello, because it’s a long trek (1,700+ miles) and it’s a big instrument, so…” she laughed “ it was a decision to make! I probably should have left it home, because when I was at school I was really busy studying with the physical therapy degree. it’s a doctoral program, so pretty intense and time consuming. And then whenever I came home, I was on break, so I had time. says,So I probably would have played it more if I left it at home:) But I did play some when I was down in Texas. The guitar is a little bit easier to pick up and play for a short amount of time, so that is something I use more as a stress reliever, more so than the cello. The cello, you kind of have to practice it quite a bit, to keep it up, it’s a little bit harder I find. So I usually end up playing for a few hours instead of ten minutes or something. It’s harder to just pick up and put down for me.”

Cetacean Nation thought that the guitar might have been more common an instrument in Texas, but  Laurel advised.

"I think in general it probably is, but there are definitely orchestras all over the place. The little town I was in, San Angelo Texas, had a nice symphony. So every once and awhile I went to see one of their concerts with my aunt and uncle that live down there, so that was nice. Because of the cello, I really appreciate classical music, it’s a beautiful type of music for sure.”  We also asked if Laurel had composed anything herself, or if she also sang. “Not really. Probably when I was just playing around on the guitar, I’ve written maybe two songs. There is kind of just this little gift that comes to me, but just two times in my life” She laughed and said "It just kind of happens but it’s not really something I have a skill in creating. My older sister, she is very musically talented and she sings really well,and she’s written a few songs. So she’s definitely more talented that way than I am. I do sing, but more so just for my own enjoyment. Or, if I’m in church I will sing.” 

So Cetacean Nation wanted to oook  back at how her hockey and academic career developed, we asked Laurel about the process of how she came to chose Saint Norbert College. 

 “I think coming from a smaller town, even though I was playing in Barrie, I kind of of felt it was hard to be seen by schools that were looking for players. I always intended to go to college, and I loved hockey so much, that I really wanted to keep playing. I think it was one of the tournaments we were at for Barrie, where Rob Morgan (current LIU Coach) approached me. He told me about this school, Saint Norbert College, that he was going to be building their inaugural team for. So I took that information, it was pretty exciting, and I kind of looked into the school a bit more. I visited it at one point and the campus was beautiful, something that really fit my personality. It was a smaller campus, I got a good feeling from Rob Morgan the Coach. and I was pretty excited for the opportunity. For me, I didn’t have these big decisions with other schools I was looking at, it just kind of fell into place and I’m really glad it did, because I had an amazing time at Saint Norbert College for sure. “

It was a a great recruitment by Rob Morgan and Saint Norbert as well. Laurel went on to be selected as a CCM American Hockey Coaches Association All-America, the first St. Norbert Women's Hockey player to be named an All-American within the four years of the program's existence. And future Doctor Laurel, was an Academic All-American as well. And while skating as a strong, physical defender, Laurel racked up fifty one points as well. So Cetacean Nation was curious as to Laurel’s favorite memories at Saint Norbert. She considered this, and said

"First of all, just having the opportunity of being a Student-Athlete was pretty amazing. I really enjoyed that team camaraderie and having a purpose and something to,look forward to every day outside of school. I really, really enjoyed going to practice, spending time working on my shot and then having twenty-four teammates as friends immediately when you get there, and they become your family. That first year was the inaugural season of the women’s program at Saint Norbert and Rob Mofgan put together a team of all freshmen. Which I think he did this past year with Long Island University as well, which was pretty cool. It definitely was a unique experience to be a part of, to start off this program and grow something that matters. And to do it with a group of girls that pretty well stayed the same throughout four years. We didn’t have huge amounts of turnover every year, and you all come in together, and I think fifteen or so graduated together. Pretty tight group of girls to develop over the four years. Kind of the family/team aspect of it was just a great experience"

Laurel launches a rocket for the a Green Knights. Photo-:Saint Norbert Athletics

Laurel continued

“But as far as the hockey moment that I think back to, would be my junior year. The 2012-2013 season, where we ended up winning the conference championship. And it was a particularly great experience, because of the game that we played against Wisconsin-River Falls. I’m not sure what their record was, but they were by far one of the top,teams in our conference. and we were doing pretty well, but not quite on their level. We were playing them for the conference championship, and nobody thought we were going to win. We had developed a kind of heart and tenacity, and we just believed in ourselves. We were down 2-0 with two minutes left in the game. It was within those two minutes we scored, and then we scored again with like 11 seconds left to tie it up. And then in overtime, they were keeping it in,our end the whole time. We were just fighting, fighting, fighting, and eventually we got one break, and Karissa Anderson,my teammate scored and we won.! It just leaves that feeling in your heart, that incredible joy that you can’t re-create in other situations.That’s something I will never forget. It definitely taught us a lesson, that no matter what’s going on in a game you don’t give up, you give everything you’ve got, you never know what could happen.” Laurel did not mention it, but she was on the ice for every goal for Saint Norbert that day. Fins Up to that!

When Laurel was speaking about her CWHL career, she mentioned the season ending injury in her second year. We wondered if Laurel’s injury had anything to do with her career choice. She clarified

"No, by my senior year in college I kind of had physical therapy in mind as my career choice. For a long time prior to college, I knew I wanted to do something in the medical/healthcare field. I wasn’t sure what that career would be, but that’was kind of how I chose. I did a Biomedical Science major at Saint Norbert, because I knew that would give me the course work I needed for whatever graduate school I ended up going to. So it certainly already was on my mind, and then Physical Theraphy just made sense. It had a lot to do with understanding human movement, and how our bodies work, and that was everything I loved about sports. So it just was kind of a natural interest of mine. So I already had that in my mind before the ACL thing. But the ACL actually caused me to apply when I did, so I guess it had a role” she laughed.  

Laurel traveled to Texas and received her DPT from Angelo State. We asked what particular aspects of the profession interested her the most, and she told us

"Probably I went into it with an idea of wanting to treat in what we call the outpatient clinic. There’s a wide variety of people you would see there, but you would see more of the athletic population there as well as people who had surgeries. Kind of the general population. So I definitely had that in my mind, but wanted to keep an open mind. Knowing that some of the other areas, like working in a hospital with more neural relalated patients. I didn’t really have any experience with that before going into school. So I had an idea what I wanted but I kept an open mind, so I could learn more, and maybe my interest would change.” Laurel laughed and added “But I don’t think it changed that much, because I ended up working in the outpatient clinic! and I would love to learn more about treating athletes specifically, and kind of get in that space a little bit more as I grow in my career field. One of the most important things about physical therapy is being able to relate well to your patients, and gaining their trust. And if you’ve experienced it, although everyone’s individual experience is unique, it definitely gives you a better mindset to realize what they’re going through. And how hard that can be as an athlete. To suffer through pan and injury and not be able to play, and not be able to run. So I do think that it is valuable to have a bit of that experience.” 

We remarked to Laurel that it sounded like the mental aspect was pretty important to the patient in the process, She acknowledged.that and said

"It’s definitely true, we call it the biopsychosocial model, where there is a biological component of what your tissues are experiencing, but that psychological component plays a big role in how somebody heals from something. So it’s definitely something that you want to be mindful,of and address, because how you think about your situation, really does impact how you recover or don’t recover as well. So it’s definitely very important.”

We also asked Laurel how she would react to a teammate approxpching as Doc Hill? 

“We certainly have Paul (Whale trainer Paul Fernandes) who is a great trainer, and in many ways has a lot more experience working acutely with hockey teams, sports teams, and immediate injury, needs. But I certainly would be down to help people with any injuries they were dealing with, and give some of my teammates massages befire the game or something, It’s gefinitely been more recently that I want to dive in more specifically into hockey specific physical therapy needs, and become more of an expert in that area, Because it’s definitely become a passion of mine and something I’d like to be treating more of. Anytime you’re moving there is a risk of getting injured, but there is a greater risk of not moving. The sedentary life style has a lot of negative health impacts so having the occasional injury is not necessarily a bad thing. Our bodies are pretty good at healing and getting back,out there. “

It’s almost 1,900 miles from San Angelo, Texas to Danbury, Connecticut. So we asked Laurel how it came to be that she came to Connecticut, and eventually the Whale. Pretty incredible story, as it turns out!

“Good question! I never thought I would be living in Connecticut. I’ve actually never been to Connecticut before this year. After you graduate (as a DPT) you have to study and take the national board exams, so you can be licensed as a physical therapist. So I was at home studying for that, and I ended up taking a continuing education course. In the profession, you have to keep educating yourself to keep learning and stay up to date with everything. And I really, really liked the company that was giving that course. It was really important to me that I was working for a physical therapy company that really values their patients first and wants to help patients in a good way. Kind of a clinic that would align with my values as well. So I contacted the teachers of that course that I was taking and just asked if they knew of anyone that thought along the lines that they did. Because I really appreciated the way they approached physical therapy and treating patients. So they ended up putting me in contact with Melissa Reed. She’s a physical therapist who also owns a CrossFit gym in Danbury.,She has a little clinic that she runs out of her CrossFit gym. So that kind of got me looking in that direction, and I stayed in contact with her. She wasn’t really in a position to be hiring a full time physical therapist, which I didn’t think would be the case at the start. So she put me in contact with Physical Therapy Sports Medicine Center, which is another physical therapy clinic throughout Connecticut. She used to work for that company, and it’s a pretty good company. So I ended up going to work there.”

Laurel continued  “And kind of as this was all happening, I remembered that the NWHL had a Connecticut team. I wonder where that’s located? So I looked it up one day and it was in Danbury:) It really just fell into place . The other really crazy thing is that the Whale were not in Danbury prior to this year. If it hadn’t been in Danbury, there no way I could have made it with my schedule, it just wouldn’t have worked out. So I was.pretty excited that the team was there. It was kind of in the back of my mind, but I was going there for the work and career opportunities in physical therapy. And then I just reached out to the team to see what that opportunity could be as well, and things kind of fell into place there too. I was pretty excited for that to happen.” 

We mentioned Laurel’s first couple of games with the Pod, earlier and the great impression she made on the fans. But a few games later there was a play that highlighted Laurel’s physical style of play, and delighted the Pod fans, Chasing down a pick in the defensive zone Laurel and an opposing skater came together, and the skater bounced off like she’d hit a brick wall. Laurel commented

"I do remember that play, partly because I was frustrated with it being a penalty! It can be frustrating to be strong sometimes because of that, not that it’s a bad thing at all, but sometimes people fall a little harder than you might expect, and it makes it look like a hit when they kind of just ran into you. But that also just stresses the point of staying fit off the ice, lifting weights, and being solid on your ground. That’s definitely been one of my advantages, I really enjoy playing a physical game. I definitely don’t like to be dirty with how I play, take cheap shots or anything, but it can definitely be satisfying to knock a few players over” she laughed.

Laurel is not only tall and strong, but showed good quickness and explosiveness as well. And she told us that will get even better.

“Probably in the past it’s been better than this season showed. Coming off being down in Texas where I really wasn’t skating at all throughout the year except for maybe a couple of times, I had not been on the ice very much for 3 ½, almost four years. Every once and awhile at Christmas I’d play some pickup hockey with my a Dad, bit it’s not quite the same :) Those first few practices with the Whale I definitely was rusty, so I’m really glad that Colten and the team gave me a chance to show what I’m capable of. So I think towards the end I was starting to get my legs back a little bit. Working out in he gym was definitely helpful, but there’s nothing quite the same as skating. So I think it was starting to come back, but I wasn’t quite where I usually am. But hopefully if next year works out well, I’ll be in a little better shape, skating fast, being quick on my feet and everything.” 

Laurel also offered her opinion on the huge Whale play-off win, saying

That was a fun game to play against Buffalo, and recognizing the importance of being that physical presence when we played them. That was my first time playing Buffalo, and they certainly have some big physical players over there. So it was kind of a fun challenge. Coming off having a few recent wins in the season and getting a little bit of a turnaround for the season going into that game, I think we had a lot of confidence that we could beat Buffalo, and it played out that way. But having that confidence was probably helpfipul having that mindset going in.I think that coming into the season late, I don’t know all of the background, but it seems that this last season we were able to build off something towards the end. And to start to create something that was moving in the right direction for sure. It makes sense to build off what we have rather than try to create everything.”

Laurel keeping fit between sessions on the ice!

We wrapped up our interview with  Laurel with a six pack of wide ranging kind of fun questioms.

Tim Horton’s or Dunkin’? "Oh, Tim Horton’s for sure! Although Dunkin’ Donuts is growing on me, I have to say :)"

Is it sledding or tobaganning? "Tobaganning! As a kid we would say: Hey, do you want to go tobaganning? We did have tharpt type of equipment, flat to the ground, with a curl thing in front. Do you know what a GT is?  It’s kind of like Tricycle, but it%season a sled with a steering wheel. (http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/gKIAAOSw7hRWPSfS/s-l300.jpg) And those were the funnest things to play in the snow with. You could really control where you were going, so that was fun, We also used to take a Skidoo, and toe the tobagan behind the Skidoo, and my Dad would pull us around the property..I really enjoyed the snow as a kid."

Do you have a favorite post-game meal? " I don’t think that I have a favorite meal, just that I get really hungry. Probably I would choose chicken and rice or vegetables and rice. It’s more that I just need to eat something. A hockey game takes a lot out of you." 

What was your favorite thing about Texas? "Probably the people. They are really friendly and welcoming, always seeking to serve each other and spend time together, so I would probably say, justt the people down there. Hockey is a pretty big deal,in Canada, but it’s awesome to see how it’s growing in the states. I was doing my physical therapy schooling down in Texas and there’s not a lot of hockey down there, she laughed, especially since I was not in the big cities, where they do have rinks. I always wanted people to,play the hockey games on TV, but they couldn't find them:) But I figured it out when you went to a hockey rink, because they have them in Austin or Dallas, and I went to a couple when I could. And whenever I went to a hockey rink in Texas I would run into all of the Canadians that lived in Texas, because they all,mend up at the hockey rink:). That was kind of like a little pocket of home, when I went to a rink there.”

What is your favorite rink you have played in? "Hmmm. For me that’s more of a nostalgic question I think. Two come to mind. One would definitely be Cornerstone Rink, that was the Saint Norbert home rink. It’s your home rink for your college team, it’s just super familiar, and something you love playing on. It’s also an Olympic size rink, so it’s a little bit bigger, which on defense I really liked, it gave you a little more space to make good plays. My favorite is when you come up to an empty rink and the ice has been cleaned, and it’s been sitting there for a few hours, maybe first thing in the morning.That’s my favorite, I just love looking at it. The other rink that brings back good memories is my hometown rink in Huntsville. Whenever I go in there, I get some good feelings. “

For those who may not know, what is FNX? "They’re a supplement company, and I kind of came across them through the CrossFit world. I think some of their owners were Crossfitters and wanted to develop a good supplement company. So I kind of liked their lifestyle behind the product that they had, and maybe a year or two ago I tried a few of their products and really liked them. Mostly I just do some proteins, and they have a really good greens supplement that I like, so I am an Ambassador for them on the side. They do have very tasty products, so I like that, and they’re ingredients that I approve of. So it’s a pretty good product that I enjoy."

 So now we’ve learned a little more about our amazing #20 Laurel Hill. We thank Laurel for her generous, enlightening and engaging content, and look forward to hopefully learning even more in the seasons to come. Fins Up to that!

Laurel, Shannon Doyle and Grace Klienbach, with some happy Future Draft Picks!