As it quickly becomes the premier junior women’s hockey league for developing talent, the Provincial Women’s Hockey League in Ontario sees more of its highly skilled players become the latest recruits for NCAA schools. The Robert Morris Colonials out of Moon Township, Pennsylvania have acquired seven elite young women, including six from the highly competitive PWHL.
Three players from the London Junior Devilettes (Brittany Howard, Tia Kipfer and Jessica Dodds) have all signed letters of intent to play for the Colonials.
Forward Maeve Garvey hails from the Burlington Junior Barracudas, while Mackenzie Johnston is in her third PWHL season, and first with the Etobicoke Dolphins.
Rounding out the group of PWHL talents is Mikaela Lowater, a member of the Mississauga Jr. Chiefs. The seventh recruit for the Colonials is Rikki Meilleur, hailing from St-Adolphe, Manitoba.
London’s titanic trio will certainly help build team chemistry and familiarity once they join the Colonials.
As an assistant captain for the last four seasons, Brittany Howard is a true leader. In her current season with the Devilettes, she has logged 20 points in 15 games. Fellow forward Tia Kipfer has 12 points in the first half of London’s season. Having logged 23 points during the 2011-12 PWHL season, she is on pace to match or exceed that total.
Goaltender Jessica Dodds is the key acquisition among the three London recruits. With the graduation of Kristen DiCiocco, Dodds is primed to take over as the Colonials' starting goaltender this fall. She holds a sterling 24-6-2 career mark with London.
More importantly, she was named the Top Goaltender at the 2012 Canadian National Under-18 tournament. She helped Team Ontario Blue capture its first-ever gold medal. Her elite performance gained notice, as she earned a nod on the Canadian Under-18 national team.
A team captain with the Burlington Jr. Barracudas, Maeve Garvey is a smart defensive forward that brings character to the Colonials. Having led the Jr. Barracudas in scoring during the 2011-12 season, she brings great potential to a Colonials team that is looking to compete with Mercyhurst among the elite clubs in College Hockey America.
Mackenzie Johnston is a veteran of two PWHL clubs. From 2010 to 2012, she competed with the Aurora Panthers (which features notable alumni such as Vicki Bendus and Rebecca Bouwhuis). For her last PWHL campaign, she joined the Etobicoke Dolphins. Although she is more of a defensive-minded forward, Johnston helped Aurora reach the PWHL Final Four and will be counted upon to provide toughness against the likes of Mercyhurst and Syracuse.
With a great presence on the blueline, defender Mikaela Lowater joins Dodds as the other PWHL player to have competed in the 2012 Canadian National Under-18 tournament. Unlike Dodds, Mikaela competed with Team Ontario Red, which claimed the bronze medal. With the Mississauga Jr. Chiefs, she bolstered their blueline as the club captured second overall in the 2011-12 PWHL standings.
These six PWHL recruits are among the growing number that are finding their way into NCAA Division I programs. Through their participation in national tournaments, and their leadership abilities, the level of women’s hockey talent emanating out of the PWHL is reinforcing the league’s growing reputation as a premier source of developing talent.