As part of the new crop of players competing with the proud Toronto Jr. Aeros franchise in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, Amanda Pantaleo is quickly making an impression. During the December 2012 Kitchener Can-Am Tournament, she was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player.
Describing the tournament, she said, “It was awesome! It was rewarding to know that hard work pays off!”
In adjusting to competitive junior women’s hockey, part of the change includes long bus trips. Pantaleo, a former Willowdale Red Wings AA player, employs several methods to pass the time during said trips.
“Sometimes I sleep, and listen to music," she said. "We also watch movies, and do homework.”
Her academic responsibilities and hockey obligations have also made prioritizing an important element.
“I am in Grade 11 this year. It is the biggest jump for me. You are always away on weekends but you get used to it.”
During the month of October, Pantaleo and her Jr. Aeros teammates had the opportunity to play against three Ivy League schools, the Brown Bears, Princeton Tigers and Yale Bulldogs. Although the Jr. Aeros lost all three contests, the learning experience was priceless.
“It was really cool to play against them," said Pantaleo. "It is a good experience to see what women’s hockey in the NCAA is like. I learned things that are needed to improve in my game. It was also good to see the campuses.”
Pantaleo is quick to acknowledge the support of the parents.
“It is a good atmosphere. It is good to know we have their support. After a road game, it is good to come out and see the parents. Personally, I like when they tell us we had a good game. They are there to support us!”
Her head coach with the Jr. Aeros is the highly accomplished Dave Gwyn. One of his most recent accomplishments was coaching Team Ontario Red to a bronze medal at the Canadian Under-18 nationals in November 2012.
“I have learned a lot from playing for him,” declared Pantaleo. “He teaches you life lessons. Stuff you can use off the ice. He prepares you well for the future, and constantly prepares you for the next level. He is a great help and has made me a lot better player.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”