The Journal Athletes of the Week
Molly Groenewegen, in her first year in the Faculty of Education and fifth year as a Golden Gaels hockey player, posted the best stats of her career last weekend in a game that was special for the team as a whole.
Groenewegen scored a hat trick on Saturday in a 3-0 win over the Western Mustangs. What sweetened the victory was that the game was for the inaugural Boys and Girls Club Cup, which will be played annually between Western and Queen’s in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs in both these cities.
Groenewegen has been volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club for three years and had a big crowd of supporters at Saturday’s game.
“The Boys and Girls Club came to the game to cheer,” she said. “They really motivated me.” Along with her involvement with the club, Groenewegen is doing her teacher’s placement at Sydenham High School, where she is helping coach the women’s hockey team.
“I want to go out and promote women’s hockey,” she said. “Helping coach high school hockey can make a difference.”
Groenewegen is not only a leader in the community, but a leader on the ice. She was named captain of this year’s team, which returns only nine players from last year’s squad and has nine rookies on the roster.
“It is an honour to be a captain,” Groenewegen said. “I try to be a role model and a leader in the dressing room.” Groenewegen, a player who deserved the C on her jersey for her hard work and team play, finally made an impact on the score sheet against Western.
“I tried not to think about the third goal too much,” she said. “I guess I was in the right spot at the right time. It was exciting to score a hat trick.” Groenewegen attributes her success to self-motivation and hard work. With the help of her teammates, both new and old, the women’s hockey team will look to use the momentum of a two-win weekend over Western to propel them to a successful campaign with the goal of making the playoffs.
The life of a goaltender is up and down. And Ostap Prokipchuk, a fourth-year Gaels goaltender and geography/German student, has had a roller coaster week.
Prokipchuk was outstanding in a 1-0 win over Laurier on Sunday, helping the Gaels finish the regular season with a record of 7-2-1.
“The 1-0 win was satisfying,” Prokipchuk said. “It was a real team effort when we were under adversity.”
Prokipchuk said he was confident the win versus Laurier was a good way to enter the playoffs.
However, Wednesday’s playoff game was not as satisfying. The Gaels’ season ended in a shootout against Waterloo. The pressure on a goalie in a shootout scenario is intensified because it is just the shooter against the goalie.
“I used to be nervous in these situations, but this time I didn’t feel that way,” he said. “It was nice to make the first save—it was challenging and stressful.”
Prokipchuk, who finished his career as a Golden Gael on Wednesday night, has seen an immense change over his three years as the Gaels goaltender. In his first year, Prokipchuk came into the Gaels soccer camp with enough talent to make the team, but was a first year cut. That motivated him to work even harder at camp next year.
“I busted my ass off,” he said. “I made sure I made the team.” From the time he made it in his second year he was the starting goalie and has improved ever since.
“I have improved my consistency,” he said. “I have learned a lot about what it takes to make a good leader.” Prokipchuk said he wanted to make it to nationals in his last year, but is very reflective in his observations of the season.
“I look back at the relationships, the guys I have met,” he said.
Prokipchuk had an outstanding week as an individual, but said he attributes all his success to the team, adding that Ken Roy, the goaltender coach, has helped take his playing to the next level. He especially acknowledged the contribution of five of his teammates.
“Mike Jemczyk, Devin Lake, Nevin de Korompay, Eddie Macedo and David Kerr-Vayne are all guys that play with their heart on their sleeves,” he said. “It is a real shame we can’t all play together again.”