SMU women’s hockey player had small-town start

SMU player Kaitlyn Abbass competed against men growing up and is transitioning seamlessly playing against top-level female competition.

Kaitlyn Abbass, second year SMU hockey player, is ready to hit the ice. Andrew Kudel photo.

Hitting the ice with a smooth stride, Kaitlyn Abbass looks like she has found her home in the hockey world.

The second-year commerce student from Goose Bay, N.L., plays forward for the Saint Mary's Huskies women's hockey team.

Abbass figure skated until Grade 7 when she switched her skills on ice to hockey. When she started the game, she played on a girl's team with a wide range of abilities and ages, often a team made up of players from age nine to 19.

"We would all be on the ice at the same time. So it would be hard to maintain a flow on the ice. But you would help the younger ones or if you were a younger one you would look up to the older ones," says Abbass.

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Kaitlyn Abbass takes a shot during warm ups. Andrew Kudel photo.

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Saint Mary’s University women’s hockey player, Kaitlyn Abbass, discusses what it means to her to be playing top-level university hockey.

About Kaitlyn:

  • Favourite Food: Lebanese - My family cooks it all the time.
  • Favourite TV Show: Friends
  • Favourite Hockey Player: Sidney Crosby
  • Idol: My Dad - He played hockey at SMU so I am kind of following in his footsteps

Living in an isolated community, it wasn't uncommon for Abbass to have to travel with her teams for more than seven hours on dirt roads to find competition in places such as Labrador City, N.L.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to improve her hockey skills, Abbass began playing on men's teams and was usually one of the only girls to do so.

She credits her strong skating ability and hockey sense to playing on guys' teams while growing up, stating, "The tempo was definitely faster than the girls' hockey I got to play," she says.

"Hockey-wise I think her skating is a big strength of hers. She is a powerful skater and can cover a lot of ice pretty quickly," head coach Lisa Jordan says.

Things sped up for Abbass again when she started playing hockey at the university level.

"The competition was a huge change. The guys' hockey was obviously fast, but it's just totally different playing at fast girls' pace. I have never played against this many good girls before. At this level, every team and every player are good. It's totally different but I like it," says Abbass.

Abbass has established herself as a top level player in this competitive league. She is tied for fourth on her team in scoring contributing three points in four games. The Huskies have a record of 3-1 so far this season.

Her strong hockey skills are not her only admirable qualities. Team captain and fifth-year player Kori Cheverie credits Abbass for her unique ability to keep the dressing room relaxed.

"She keeps the dressing room pretty light hearted. She's always cracking jokes and I think that that's really important for the atmosphere of the dressing room," says Cheverie.

Jordan appreciates how she manages to find a balance between bringing her fun-loving approach to the game and keeping herself grounded.

Those memories of long days of travel on dirt roads are what help Abbass keep the game in perspective.

"Where she grew up playing her hockey, I think she realizes that it's not something to take for granted. She doesn't take things too seriously and doesn't tend to be on that rollercoaster ride of emotion that can get a player caught up," says Jordan.

Abbass will get to display her skills and even keel demeanor on Friday evening as the Huskies host the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers. Game time is 7 p.m. at Alumni Arena on the Saint Mary's campus.


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