Jennifer More earned a full scholarship to Maine. (SUBMITTED)
While the economy continues to revolve around agriculture, Deloraine has proven to be a big name in exporting hockey players as well.
The town of about 1,000 people supplied more than its fair share to the women’s U.S. college ranks in 2011-12 as Jennifer More and Kiara DeKezel, both 18, had impressive freshman seasons in the NCAA.
More tied for fifth on the Division I Maine Black Bears in scoring this past season with 16 points, including seven goals, in 34 games. DeKezel shared fourth on the scoring list of the Division II/III Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets, tallying nine goals and 21 points in 26 games.
They were best friends growing up before More left for Wilcox, Sask., in Grade 9 to attend Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, while DeKezel stayed closer to home, playing her midget hockey for the Hartney-based Westman Wildcats.
"It’s definitely a hockey place," said More, whose father Paul is a former Brandon Wheat King while her uncle Jayson played in the National Hockey League. "Everybody wants to play on a hockey team and the people that come from here, like Don Dietrich and Ryan Caldwell and Nick Dietrich (who all played professional or major junior hockey) prove to other people that are young that they can do it. They’re all putting the time in to help all of us out and everyone wants to play, so it makes you a better player."
More was the team captain and tournament most valuable player of the 2011 Esso Cup, leading the Notre Dame Hounds to the Canadian midget championship.
She built on that success at Maine, beginning her freshman year with two goals and an assist in the Bears’ season-opening two-game sweep of the Sacred Heart Pioneers. Despite the early scoring success, More said her game was a work in progress throughout the season.
"I think the first year is more just getting used to it and as the year goes on, I think you feel a lot more comfortable," she said. "The second and third and fourth year you go, you definitely improve in that area and you feel more comfortable (playing university hockey)."
More showed enough comfort and ability that she’s been named an alternate captain for next season. She said her experience playing at Notre Dame and for Manitoba’s provincial team program — More and DeKezel played together in the 2011 Canada Winter Games — helped her make the big jump to the NCAA.
"Definitely going to those tournaments, it was a lot faster pace, and playing against the best teams I think that helped a lot with the transition and speed," she said. "And it’s always good for a coach to have a player that won a national championship because it gives them a lot more leadership and it probably gives them more confidence."
Both players have national championship goals for their university programs. The Black Bears went 17-11-6, but lost to the Providence College Friars in the Hockey East conference quarter-finals. Meanwhile, the Yellowjackets were 17-8-3, falling in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals.
"We’re trying to get the national title," DeKezel said. "I think we have a pretty good shot next year.
"It’s a really cool atmosphere to be a part of all the time because everyone goes to the rink with the same mindset that you want to be national champions, so it’s easy to work hard and push each other."
ONE-TIMERS: Two of DeKezel’s former Wildcats teammates, Teal Crosson of Alexander and Sheryl Kaskiw of Souris, are sophomores on the Yellowjackets hockey team … DeKezel and Crosson were both sprinters on UW-Superior’s track team as well.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 31, 2012