Sports

Doyle reflects on head coaching experience with hockey Martlets

An 86-game winning streak, three players on all-Canadian teams, and a silver-medal finish at Nationals. Not a bad result for a first -year hockey coach. Then again, experience with the team is one thing Martlets interim Head Coach Amey Doyle had in spades when she took over Canada’s most successful women’s hockey program from Peter Smith at the beginning of the year. The former McGill star took some time to share her thoughts with the Tribune about her team’s momentous season.

After your career as an all-star goaltender with McGill, what made you decide to go into coaching?I have always been very passionate about coaching, although not necessarily at McGill. My current position kind of fell into place because one of the assistant coaches left [for] Toronto. I started out with a minimal role, [working] with the goaltenders and with recruiting. My role gradually increased, and when Peter took his temporary leave, I was very glad that the Athletics Department had enough faith in me to let me have a chance to be in charge.

What did you learn as an assistant coach under Peter Smith?He definitely showed [me] the importance of paying attention to detail, and to approach everything with professionalism, regardless of the situation. I admire him for his passion for the game, his work ethic, and just how interested he is in the women’s hockey program. What was your mindset going into the season?I approached it with the goal of sticking to the keys of our success. Again, it was paying attention to detail and taking things one day at a time. Even though we were missing a few key components, I thought it was a great opportunity for players to step up, and they all did just that.

Obviously, losing to the Alberta Pandas in the National Championship game was shocking. If you could go back and play the finals all over again, what would you have changed?That is something I have been thinking for a while now. I thought Alberta played very well. They definitely played a very different style of game than they did in their two previous games. They were not afraid to get us to ice the puck, and subsequently they took away our bread and butter, which is our speed and our puck control. We just weren’t able to adapt quickly enough. They had a few bounces go their way, and if we had had our share of those, the result may have been different. With that being said, I would have liked to have seen us try to get the puck on net and score a garbage goal instead of looking for the perfect play. [Many] of our girls are returning next season, and hopefully they will all have become better players because of it.

Some key offensive players are graduating this year – which player of the returnees do you expect to step up their game and fill in for the departing veterans?I think Jordanna Peroff is definitely a candidate to break out next season. She was great at Nationals, and she continues to progress in our program. She reads the game very well and is a very strong and powerful player. Also, Ann-Sophie Bettez brings a lot to the table too, with her experience and great speed. I don’t really expect scoring to be a problem next year.

When you look back on this entire experience, what stands out to you the most? It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed my time in charge. Winning the QSSF was definitely special, [and] we didn’t expect to go undefeated this season because of the personnel we lost. There are a lot of steps that need to be taken before a team gets to the CIS championships, and I thought the team overcame a lot of adversity in taking those steps successfully.

What does the future hold for you? Are you staying in McGill?Peter will be back, and I will be the assistant coach again. I cannot stress enough how excited I am for Peter to come back. He has been a great mentor for many years. Like I said before, I still have lots to learn, and it’s great to learn from the best. I enjoyed my experience this year and I look forward to being in the thick of it again next season.

– Compiled by John Hui

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