By Еvan Osentоn
Don’t ask Dino women’s hockey team captain Mariann MacDougall who she thinks will win the Stanley Cup this year. The 20-year-old Lumsden, Saskatchewan native and third-year History major is, by her own admission, the most vocal member of the team.
Outspoken and opinionated are more like it.
MacDougall came to Calgary three years ago and has anchored the Dinos’ defence for two years, both as team captain. She advocates coach Julie Healy’s methods and is confident about the 7-1 Dino’s prospects come playoff time.
"[Healy] is amazing. You get a little bit of everything with her; she knows the game inside and out, she’s really positive, and I really respect the fact that she’s coached the best there is. She’s easy to work with, easy to talk to; she kind of abolished my stereotype of people from Quebec," she joked.
"I think Julie’s approach is awesome; that’s what’s going to lead us to winning Canada West. Everyone is getting a chance to play. It’s tough to beat a team with four lines when you only have one. When you play three 20-minute periods it all comes down to what team can put four lines together and that’s where our success lies."
MacDougall said she came to the U of C because of the outstanding program for the development of women’s hockey.
"I chose the University of Calgary because the Olympic Oval program [has] the best coaches in Canada. The opportunity to meet people you look up to and train with athletes who are at the top of your sport is definitely an advantage because I think that’s how you get better."
Through the program, MacDougall has met and played with such stars as Manon Rheaume and Cassie Campbell. She admits at first she was star-struck and asked for their autographs.
"But now I’m past that. It’s kind of embarrassing. I was 17 and thinking, ‘God, Cassie Campbell just sat next to me in the dressing room.’ Now I wouldn’t hesitate to drive her through the boards if I had the chance."
MacDougall explained that the Dinos team and women’s hockey in general is a close group, but growing dramatically.
"It’s a pretty tight community. It’s more mainstream now that we’re going to the Olympics; there are more people playing it, where before it was just kind of there. In the 2002 Olympics there will be a lot of girls from this program."
As for MacDougall, she would like to be one of those heading for Salt Lake City.
"It’s a definite dream. I’m a more immediate goal setter; my goal right now is to win nationals with the Dinos; if me playing well here takes me to the next level, so be it."
As with any hockey player, MacDougall has strong opinions about the NHL and the conversation eventually turned to this year’s season.
"Wayne Gretzky is the all time best player; Mark Messier is one of the greatest players ever," she said. "I would like to play more like Ray Bourque, but my favourite defencemen is Tom Poti. I’m such a fan of Jeff Shantz and Kelly Buchburger. Those guys made it on leadership and guts. Guys like that I have so much respect for because they keep plugging and keep going. If I could have wheels like Todd Marchant, I’d be set for life. But Wayne Gretzky has got to be the all time best player–hands down, no question, leadership-wise, he’s the whole package."
For the record, MacDougall thinks that Detroit, or possibly San Jose, or maybe Edmonton, will win it all this year.