Waldenberger on a tear

Puck handling at its finest./ Arthur Ward

Puck handling at its finest./ Arthur Ward

Cougars forward exceeding expectations

With their win Oct. 30 and loss Oct. 31, the women’s Cougar hockey team moved to 5-4-1 on the season, a decent start for a team that is looking to repeat a playoff appearance again this year. In this early season, second-year Emma Waldenberger is off to a hot start, scoring eight goals and three assists in nine games. Growing up in Moose Jaw, Emma was on skates at the early age of two years old and started playing hockey by four. I caught up with Emma this past week to get her take on her start to the season.

It is normal for players to improve each year in the CIS, but in Waldenberger’s case the improvement is off the charts. Emma already has twice as many goals as she had last year, and one less point in a third of the games.

“Now that I’m in my second year, I’m able to adjust to the speed of the game better and I have more confidence in myself,” said the 19-year-old psychology student.

She also attributes much of her growth as a player to the team bonding they did while in Sweden this preseason, and the mentality they all share.

“We did a lot of team bonding in Sweden,” said the Moose Jaw native. “We have a focus that is team orientated, everyone wants what’s best for the team.”

Even though Emma has twice as many goals already than she had last year, she doesn’t describe her game as a goal scorer.

“I would have to say I’m a two-way player because I played defence until my third year of midget,” said the second-year Cougar. “I think that often helps me on both sides of the puck.”

Her play hasn’t gone unnoticed, either. Emma is coming off both the CIS Female Player of the Week and Canada West Female 1st Star of the Week. This is just another step towards her goals as a Cougar.

“My goal is to be fully committed to the Cougars women’s hockey team every practice and every game, to be focused, to be prepared, to learn all I can to be a better player.”

Understandably, Emma wants to be a leader on the team and made it part of her focus to “face and overcome the pressures and challenges of the game” every time she steps on the ice. Remaining focused and continuing to overcome challenges will play a huge role in whether or not Emma will be able to achieve her long-term goal as a Cougar which is, “Helping them win a national championship.”

It may be a bit to early to start trying to predict the national champions just yet, but that being said, if the whole team buys in and continues to grow together, the women’s Cougars may have what it takes to make a deep playoff run. However the rest of the season plays out, it will be exciting to see if Emma can continue the pace she started on, and if the team can improve on the impressive season they had last year, and go deeper into the playoffs. Who knows, maybe a national championship for the University of Regina Cougars will become a reality sooner rather than later.

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