Virden’s Karissa Kirkup has become the third member of the Westman Wildcats Midget AAA female hockey team to accept a full NCAA scholarship this month.
The 17-year-old forward has verbally committed to play for the University of Maine Black Bears in 2013-14, joining fellow Wildcats senior Jessica Vallotton, a defenceman from Ninette who committed to Maine earlier this month.
Wildcats centre Ashleigh Brykaliuk of Brandon committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth a couple of weeks ago, while Neepawa’s Halli Krzyzaniak, who plays for the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C., officially committed to the University of North Dakota on Thursday night.
Kirkup, the 5-foot-10 captain of the Wildcats, received eight full NCAA scholarships offers and narrowed her choices down to two schools when she made campus visits to Ohio State University and Maine.
"There were a lot of good schools and good coaches recruiting me, so it was a tough decision but I picked Maine because they have great coaches and they are very personable and I’m confident that it will be a really good team in the coming years," Kirkup said Friday.
In the end, the choice came down to feeling more comfortable with her new coaches and teammates and with the smaller Maine campus in Orono, featuring 12,000 students, rather than the sprawling Ohio State campus in Columbus that has a student body of 56,000.
"Small-town girls just seem to go there (to Maine) and I can tell they are really good teammates and they get along well," said Kirkup, who will play for Manitoba’s team at the Canadian under-18 women’s hockey championship from Nov. 7-11 in Dawson Creek, B.C. "I would have enjoyed Ohio State, I’m sure, but I liked the option of Maine and it’s smaller ... and not so big that I wouldn’t know anybody on campus except for my team."
Kirkup has totalled five goals and 14 points in eight games, and was in Winnipeg yesterday hoping to get fitted with a playing cast for her broken left arm that she suffered on Sept. 28. Kirkup will officially sign her letter of intent when the NCAA early signing period opens on Nov. 14 and is happy to finalize her search.
"It’s a big weight off my shoulders," said Kirkup, who will also join sophomore centre Jennifer More of Deloraine at Maine next season. "It wasn’t stressful, it was an enjoyable experience. But at the same time, it’s good to get it over with so that I can focus on doing well with the Wildcats this year."
Meanwhile, the 17-year-old Krzyzaniak has verbally committed to accept a full scholarship to UND after making campus visits to four schools — UND, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Cornell. A member of Canada’s gold medal winning under-18 team at this year’s world women’s championship who has six assists in nine games this season, Krzyzaniak was hotly recruited by multiple schools on both sides of the border. The 5-foot-9 defenceman, who couldn’t be reached for comment, will officially sign her letter of intent with UND on Nov. 14.
On Friday, Krzyzaniak was named captain of Manitoba’s U18 squad for this year’s national championship, with Brykaliuk and Manitou’s Madison Hutchison named alternate captains.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 27, 2012