In the second half of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Women’s Hockey League Madison (Maddy) Sansom found herself in a new position.
RDP Queens head coach Kelly Coulter decided to move the 21-year-old veteran from left wing to centre and it was a move made in heaven.
Sansom went on a tear, scoring all eight of her goals and 13 of her 14 points at the new position.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” said the Saskatoon native. “I’ve never played centre before, just on the wing. I enjoy the wing as well, but wherever Kelly puts me as long as we’re winning.”
Maddy finished tied for the team lead with Avery Lajeunesse for goals and points.
“It really doesn’t matter who scores as long as it’s good for us.”
Sansom put together a 10-game point streak and a seven-game goal streak in the second half.
“I certainly gained more confidence once the puck started going in,” she said.
Coulter was looking to add depth at centre when he made the move.
“We felt it would be easy for her to master,” he said. “She’s also a good puck distributor so I thought it would be a good move and it’s been successful so far.
“When Maddy came to training camp (in 2019) we knew she had some offensive talent. It was a matter of putting her with the right linemates and in the right position. It was a matter of us having faith in her and her believing in herself that she could play that position and she’s been rewarded.
“It was a matter of her having confidence with the puck and poise with the puck. At centre she has the puck more so she can be that distributor … we’re a better team when she has the puck on her stick.”
Sansom has also given the Queens added goal-scoring.
“It’s nice to have a couple different people to put up points,” said Coulter. “We do have a team that scores by committee but it’s also nice to have those veterans like Maddy and Avery who have been here for a while who have that poise and knowledge with the puck.”
The Queens will need more from those veterans as they meet the Lakeland Rustlers in the best-of-three ACAC semifinal, beginning Friday at 4:30 p.m. at the Gary W Harris Canada Games Centre. The teams clash Saturday at 7 p.m. in Lloydminster. A third game, if necessary, would be Sunday at 8 p.m. at RDP.
The NAIT Ooks and Olds Broncos meet in the other semifinal.
The Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre will be busy Friday as the Kings also open their best-of-three men’s semifinal at 8 p.m. against Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder, who upset the SAIT Trojans in the quarter-finals.
The second game is Saturday at 7 p.m. in Edmonton with the third, if needed, Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at RDP.
The Augustana Vikings and NAIT Ooks meet in the other semifinal.
Sansom grew up in Saskatoon and played ringette until she was 13.
“I started playing hockey and loved it,” she said. “I find ringette players can really skate, but it’s the handling the puck that I needed to work on.
“I spent a lot of time with that.”
Since moving to centre she has added responsibilities.
“I need to concentrate on taking care of the front of the net in our zone and win faceoffs, which I’ve worked hard at.”
She played three years with a strong U18AAA program (the Battleford Sharks) before joining the Queens.
It was her U18 coach that got her a tryout with RDP.
“He reached out and got me into the Queens prospects camp and it worked out perfectly,” she said. “Not only is it a great program, but I got the academic program I wanted.”
She will receive her diploma in Social Work this year and move back to Saskatoon to work.
“I’ve been working with seniors and hope to continue with that at home,” she explained.
Maddy has two years of eligibility remaining if she decides to return one day.
“You never know,” she said with a laugh.
If this is her final season, Maddy can look back and be proud of her and the team accomplishments.
“We won the championship last year and that’s our goal this year,” she said. “It’s worked out great. Everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction.”
The Queens and Lakeland have had close battles this season and Coulter and Sansom expects moire of the same.
“They play hard, but it’s a matter of us bringing our best game,” said Sansom. ‘We won last year with defence and that always comes first with us.”
“They’re well coached and play hard,” added Coulter. “We want to play how we want to play, to execute the details and play consistently.”
The Queens have three of the top goaltenders in the conference, led by Izzy Palumbo, who led the league in goals-against-average (0.84), save percentage (.9855) and win percentage (7-0-0).
Tanya Disodell-Dunsmore was third with a 1.85 goals-against-average and sixth with a .923 save percentage while Madison Fox only played in three games — all wins — and had 1.33 goals-against-average and .942 save percentage.
“We’re fortunate to have three very good goaltenders,” said Coulter. “We can use any one of the three and feel confident. Izzy is starting to show she can be a top goaltender in this league and worked hard this past summer and this seas0n to jump into that role.”
Winners 0f the semifinals meet in a best-of-five final.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org