Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Borbandy aims to catch on with U of S Huskies blue-line

Defender Teagan Borbandy hopes to catch on with the Huskies.
    Teagan Borbandy doesn’t want to hang up her skates just because she had to switch schools.
    For the past two seasons, Borbandy was a defensive defender with the Red Deer College Queens of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. Over two seasons, she appeared in 29 regular season games with the Queens posting an assist and 22 penalty minutes, and she helped Red Deer College win an ACAC title in 2016.
    The Langdon, Alta., product is pursuing studies in bio-chemistry and knew she would have to transfer out of Red Deer College to a University to finish her degree. Borbandy wanted to transfer to the University of Saskatchewan for academics, and her thoughts started to drift towards the Huskies women’s hockey team, who play in the U Sports ranks.
    “I love Saskatchewan, and I love this school,” said Borbandy. “It is beautiful.
    “They have a really good program, so I thought I would come. I decided about two months ago that I wanted to continue to playing hockey, so I came out as a walk on.”
    Borbandy found a phone number for Huskies head coach Steve Kook and called about trying out as a walk on. From that conversation, Borbandy joined the Huskies for their training camp.
Huskies AC Brian McGregor, left, talks with Teagan Borbandy.
    She made the trip with the Huskies to Athabasca, Alta., for the Athabasca College Hockey Challenge last weekend and dressed for one of two exhibition games U of S split against the defending U Sports champion U of Alberta Pandas. The Huskies fell 3-2 after a tiebreaking shootout last Friday and won 2-1 last Saturday.
    As for Borbandy’s status with the team, things are progressing a day at a time.
    “We don’t have an idea of how many defencemen that we are going to take if it is seven, if it is nine,” said Kook, who returned to the Huskies after a one-year professional leave of absence. “If we think you are going to help us, we’ll carry you.
    “We agreed to take it day by day. At the end of every practice, we have a chat, and we’ll let her know if we like to see her another day. It is how it has been.”
    Borbandy, who stands 5-foot-4, comes to the Huskies with a solid hockey background. Besides playing for the Queens, she suited up for three seasons from 2012 to 2015 with the Rocky Mountain Raiders based in De Winton, Alta.
Teagan Borbandy listens to instructions at practice.
    Traditionally, the Raiders have been one of Alberta’s stronger female midget AAA programs, and Borbandy was an assistant captain with that club before finishing her time with that squad as captain.
    She always loved the comradery she had with her teammates and being active on the ice. Her first interactions with the Huskies players and coaches have built a desire to want to stay.
    “They are great,” said Borbandy. “They are such nice girls. They are very opening and helpful.
    “I’ve never seen so many girls that want help each other. It is not a competition within the team. It is a competition to make everybody better.
    “The coaches are great, very nice, encouraging and very supportive. They are always telling me things to improve on which is great. I love feedback.”
    Borbandy’s love for hockey hasn’t diminished over her career. She said it was great to join the Huskies having come from a good situation of having played with the Queens, who were 14-7-3 last season. The Queens fell in a best-of-three ACAC semifinal series to the MacEwan University Griffins 2-1.
    “It was a good step out of midget,” said Borbandy. “I enjoyed my team.
    “I had a great set of girls. I enjoyed the opportunity to continue playing. The school is a great school.”
Teagan Borbandy starts a rush out of her own zone.
    The Huskies had a strong campaign last season posting a 15-10-3 record. They fell in a best-of-three Canada West semifinal series to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. The Dogs fell 3-1 in a series deciding Game 3, but had they prevailed, they would have earned a berth to the U Sports final eight national championship tournament.
    When Borbandy talked to Kook about joining the Huskies, the bench boss advised the young defender, who will turn 20 on Sept. 20, to not leave anything behind.
    “We had a chat with her early in the summer, and I said if you are going to come to this thing and if you are going to come to tryouts, don’t come halfway be all in,” said Kook. “Whether it lasts one day or three days, you have to just make sure there are no regrets.
    “What I told her today is you are having a good camp so far. Comeback tomorrow, we want to see more. The way it works is pretty soon you are going to be coming back enough days that you are going to find yourself on a bus with us somewhere.”
Teagan Borbandy moves the puck up ice in a transition drill.
    The Huskies are returning five defenders from last year’s team, so ice time will be at a premium for any newcomers. Going forward, Borbandy can gain further motivation from another hockey development in her family.
    Last Friday, her younger sister, Emma, who is current playing defence for the Raiders, signed a letter of intent to play for the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds women’s hockey team for the start of the 2018-19 campaign. If Teagan stays with the Huskies, it is possible the two siblings might face each other on the ice one day.
    With all that in mind, Teagan said she just wants to work on getting better in the present.
    “My hopes are to work on things I know I need to work on, to improve and get to where some of their top defencemen are and maybe play a few games,” said Borbandy. “It would be awesome.”
    The Huskies resume their pre-season schedule this coming Saturday and Sunday, when they travel to Calgary to face the Mount Royal University Cougars on each of those days. The green and white open the regular season on Oct. 6 against their provincial rivals the U of Regina Cougars at 7 p.m. at the ancient Rutherford Rink.

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