Katie Wilson Looks to Bring Championship Ways to CWHL

Mark Staffieri@@MarkStaff100Contributor IIJune 27, 2013

In action against St. Cloud (Image obtained from: http://wcha.com/mobile/wommob_recaps13.php?wmndmnw1.s29)
In action against St. Cloud (Image obtained from: http://wcha.com/mobile/wommob_recaps13.php?wmndmnw1.s29)

Having played for the successful Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs program in the NCAA, Katie Wilson is ready to take the next step in her storied career.

After declaring for the CWHL Draft, Wilson would love to add a Clarkson Cup to her list of accomplishments. She was a Frozen Four champion in 2010, and her career with the Bulldogs was defined by putting the team first.   

Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wilson played her junior hockey with the Balmoral Hall Blazers (including a stint as captain), a popular school for hockey in the Canadian prairies.

She also left her mark while competing with the Manitoba Under-18 Provincial women’s team. A silver medal in women’s hockey at the 2006 Canada Winter Games was complemented by bronze medals in 2007 and 2008 at the Canadian Under-18 Women’s Nationals.

When she joined the Bulldogs in the autumn of 2009, her winning past provided Wilson with incredible credentials. She would make an impression as a freshman when she competed on the first line with Emmanuelle Blais and Laura Fridfinnson (who also hails from Winnipeg). In addition, she was also part of the Bulldogs power-play unit.

Her first career goal would come on October 11, 2009 in a 5-3 win against the St. Cloud State Huskies. As part of a weekend sweep against St. Cloud (where Wilson would log four points), it was a sign of things to come. For her efforts, she was recognized as WCHA Rookie of the Week.

The high scoring output would continue into the rest of the season. Her first career hat trick would come a few weeks later against Boston College on November 28, 2009.

On the strength of 27 assists, she logged an impressive 43-point campaign (seventh highest in program history among freshmen), which ranked third overall in NCAA rookie scoring. Wilson was named to the 2009-10 WCHA All-Rookie Team, and her season would end with a Frozen Four championship.

During her sophomore season, Wilson adapted a different role. Rather than skating on the first line, Wilson showed a team-first approach and worked on the penalty-killing unit. Sacrificing her own stats (her production dropped to 23 points) for the good of the team, Wilson embodied the true meaning of teamwork.

Although the Bulldogs did not return to the Frozen Four, the lessons learned were invaluable. Displaying such versatility by competing on the penalty-kill unit was a great show of maturity for Wilson. While she never matched that impressive 43-point output from her freshman campaign, her role as a leader on the team far exceeded any points she could have accumulated.

Next to the Frozen Four, Wilson’s greatest accomplishment may have been joining the Bulldogs’ 100-point club (only the 18th player to reach the magical century mark). The milestone came in a 3-0 blanking of the Bemidji State Beavers on January 18, 2013. Along with Zoe Hickel, Wilson assisted on a goal scored by senior Pernilla Winberg. Wilson would finish with a career total of 102 points.

Part of the Bulldogs top-ten list for most games played, Wilson was also a two-time WCHA All-Academic Team selection. Of note, Wilson has blogged for the website Women’s Hockey Life during her Bulldogs career. Her chronicles on her career provides fans with a window into the experiences of competing at Division I.

Having accumulated so many impressive accolades in her career, Wilson is a character player who can provide any roster in the CWHL with the grit needed to compete. Versatile as a defensive forward while able to provide a scoring touch, she has numerous skills.

Ironically, the state of the current CWHL mirrors what she endured as a freshman at the NCAA level. Upon joining the Bulldogs, several players were part of their respective nations’ centralization camps (in anticipation of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games). Wilson joined a program missing several key players, thrusting her into a position where she had to contribute quickly.

As the CWHL faces the loss of dozens of players to the 2014 Sochi Games, Wilson will have to adapt quickly to this new level of play as well. With her freshman season culminating in a championship, it would only be fitting if Wilson’s first season in the CWHL also ended on a championship note.

Articulate, dedicated, intelligent and mature are just a few of the words that describe Wilson. An integral part of the Bulldogs for the last four years, she brings a legacy of strong leadership and unselfish play to any CWHL roster.