It has been a busy off season for UOIT women’s hockey head coach Justin Caruana.
Looking to bolster his club for the upcoming season, Caruana has reached into the Provincial Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) to add some fresh talent to his roster.
Grace Donaldson, Nicole Augello, Alex Frigon, Kassidy Ford, Nicole Zabel and Briar Hughes have all committed to the Ridgebacks and will be set to start training camp at the end of the month.
“The coaching staff worked hard this past season to add a lot of depth to our lineup,” states Caruana in a news release.
“All six recruits have played at a high level with their respective teams in the PWHL and, with their willingness to learn, will be ready to make the jump and succeed in their CIS hockey career.”
Donaldson, a St. Thomas native, spent the last three seasons with the London Devilettes, where she was an offensive threat every time she touched the ice. With 113 regular season games played, she is the team’s all-time leader and finished last season with six goals and 10 assists.
Frigon, over the last three years with the Barrie Sharks, played in 86 games. Last year, she put up her best offensive numbers, finishing third in team scoring with four goals and eight assists.
Augello joined the Brampton Canadettes in 2014-15 and played in 44 career games over the course of two years. Last season, she broke out as an offensive threat, finishing second in team scoring while factoring in on 30 per cent of the team’s goals
After spending two seasons with the Kingston Ice Wolves, Ford wrapped up her junior career with the Ottawa Lady Sens. Last year, she scored four goals and five assists, including two power play goals, as she led her team in defensive scoring.
Zabel brings plenty of PWHL experience with her, having played in 83 games with Cambridge over the past two seasons, including two trips to the postseason.
The biological sciences major is a natural playmaker from the point, as she recorded 20 career assists, leading the Cambridge defensive unit with 12 during the 2014-15 season. She is also not afraid to get physical, as she is third in Cambridge all-time penalty minutes with 68.
Hughes logged a lot of minutes in goal for Barrie over the past two seasons and faced a lot of shots – 1,020, to be exact.
In 2014-15, she guided the team to the postseason with a 2.67 goals against average (GAA). The following year, she improved her totals by over a goal as she had a 1.59 GAA. She also finished fifth in the league with a .939 save percentage.