Lapensee and Murphy move on to Ottawa and York
by Randy Pascal
Two more additions to the Sudbury Lady Wolves' CIS/U Sport women's hockey feeder system as local forward Tayler Murphy and defenceman
Kailey Lapensee recently announced their intentions for 2017-2018.
The pair, both of whom suited up with the Mississauga Chiefs of the PWHL (Provincial Women's Hockey League) last year, both opted to remain in
Ontario, with Murphy joining the York Lions while Lapensee signs on to an increasing Sudbury delegation with the Ottawa Gee Gees.
Now 17 years of age, Murphy did not begin hockey until the age of seven. "I danced for one year, played soccer, and then my dad convinced me to play
hockey," she said. "I had watched it a lot. We always had it on TV, every second of the day."
A 1999 birthdate who would join the likes of Mélisa Kingsley and twins Meagan and Taylor McGaughey every second year, Murphy noted a
very helpful dynamic, working through the ranks.
"You get lots of leadership experience when you're in the older group, and when you're in the younger group, you get to learn from the older players,"
she said. "You then get to carry that on to the next year with the younger players who look up to you."
That background served her well, developing more of a defensive game as a first year peewee/bantam/midget, but then gradually increasing her offensive
production in year two. In fact, it even carried into her time with the Chiefs, to a certain extent.
"I used to be mostly a checking player, relied on to work hard and grind," she said. "This year, my PWHL coach put me in lots of different situations
that I wouldn't normally be in, and I actually finished fourth in scoring on the team."
Her 12 goals and nine assists in 38 games provided a healthy complement to a defensive awareness that is far better than most. "I like to do the little
things that no one really notices, like on the back check, I'll pick up the third man that no one sees, but it's important and crucial that you get her."
An honour role student throughout her three years at St Charles College, Murphy found a mix that worked in York. "It was a tough decision, but ultimately,
it was also a pretty simple decision," she stated. "For me, it was a lot about education - the hockey is a bonus."
Looking to study in a Business stream, Murphy set out to gain acceptance to the Schulich School of Business, a program that limits itself to
about 400 new admissions a year. "I thought it would be a perfect fit."
In the end, a somewhat similar mindset would eventually steer Lapensee to the Gee Gees. "I went to visit Ottawa in grade ten for the first time,"
recalled the 18 year old blueliner. "I knew that it was a really nice school, and that I was leaning towards them, but I was waiting to see if there were
other options out there."
"The fact that its bilingual is really good, I want to keep my french." Like Murphy, Lapensee would play her first game of hockey while novice age,
though perhaps somewhat unwillingly at first.
"My parents put me in hockey and at first, I didn't want to play," Lapensee recalled. "I was already playing ringette, I was in dancing. But I played a
few games and really liked it." Though she would incorporate the ability to rush with the puck very early on, learning how best to defend in a game that
outlaws body checking would come a little more slowly.
"Even now, as a defenceman, they always tell us to watch the body, not the puck," she said. "I think the biggest thing is not to hit them, like when
you're rubbing them out against the boards, so you kind of slowly start to lean into them."
And while the debate about the benefits of moving to PWHL is ultimately a good choice or not for top-end female hockey talent in Sudbury, Lapensee noted
several key reasons behind committing to the Chiefs.
"I knew that it was something that I wanted to do," she said. "I thought that it would be good preparation for university, living on my own, playing on
a new team. The level of hockey is just faster, a better transition into CIS hockey."
With a goal and five assists to her credit this year, Lapensee knew full well that it was other areas of her game that would be noticed if she was to
take the next step forward. "I knew that I had to play well defensively, but I also wanted to work on my offensive skills, a little bit."
"But I knew that if you wanted to get looked at as a defenceman, you should probably have a really strong defensive game. I tried to make that my
priority." And with that, Lapensee will join Murphy and a list of former Lady Wolves that is nearing a dozen or so in numbers, pursuing their passion for
hockey while attending Ontario-based universities, with more to come in the years ahead.