Anyone who’s paid attention to women’s hockey in the NWT will know Kyra McDonald is one of the best young players to come out of the territory.
She’s about to show the rest of Western Canada just how good she can be.
The 17-year-old forward from Inuvik is on the roster for the Trinity Western University Spartans women’s team in Langley, B.C., after being recruited from the St. Albert Slash U18 AAA girls team in Alberta during the off-season. She spent the past two seasons in the St. Albert system.
McDonald wasn’t the player head coach Jean LaForest originally had his eye on, however.
“Our goalie (in St. Albert) was the target,” said McDonald. “The coach mentioned he would be watching our games and he recognized me and got in contact.”
That goaltender, Jenna Goodwin, is also now a member of the team along with McDonald and that’s a bonus for McDonald because it helped with the comfort level of being a newcomer.
“I knew some of the girls on the team already from playing against them and I played with some of them also,” she said. “It really helps when you know people because it’s tough when you come into a new program and you may not know anyone.”
In talking about McDonald, LaForest spoke about her competitiveness and skill.
“Kyra is an accomplished athlete that brings size and a competitive edge to our roster,” he said. “In Kyra, we gain a player of excellent character, a strong work ethic and the potential for continued development.”
The Spartans are playing in the Canada West Division of U Sports and they already have a few exhibition games under their belt — UBC, the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University are some of the schools they faced off against in September. The ladies will open up the regular season at home versus UBC on Oct. 15 and McDonald is expecting it to be a big deal.
“It’s going to be really good opening up at home,” she said. “It’s a big rink and everyone’s looking forward to it.”
Maybe a bit more so because not only will this be the first game of the women’s season but the first official varsity women’s hockey game ever at the school. Trinity Western was accepted into Canada West before the start of last season but Covid-19 killed off the entire U Sports season for 2020-21.
“I’m nervous about it. Our coach is always talking about it and he’s excited and we’re excited. I hope we’ll get to play every team this season,” McDonald said of the upcoming season.
The new normal around the campus includes some new rules regarding Covid-19 and they include showing vaccination cards when you enter the arena and masking up when not on the ice, she added.
“Even when we’re doing our off-ice workouts, we have to wear them,” she said of masks.
Being away from home is nothing new for McDonald, but she said getting used to university life was an adjustment.
“I was intimidated at first because you’re coming into a new environment you’ve never experienced before,” she said. “I’m enjoying it so far and I’m getting more comfortable. The big thing about Trinity Western is that it’s a smaller university and that’s really helped with the transition from high school.”
She’s also been getting a lot of support from back home with people always asking her how hockey is going.
“So many people ask where I’m playing hockey and when I mentioned I was going to play at university, people were really excited,” she said. “My parents have been talking about it and telling everyone and that makes me feel proud. I’m proud that I come from a small community and I’m excited that everyone back home has been watching me.”