'CAT TRAX: SKATING ACROSS THE POND

This is the seventh installment of "Cat Trax," a series of feature stories that will periodically appear on the UNH athletics Web site.
By Danielle Blais, UNH Athletic Media Relations


“This is a boy’s game!” the senior forward and assistant captain on the UNH women’s ice hockey team has heard her whole life. Since age eight, however, Angela Taylor (Paisley, Scotland) has competed with the boys, and outskated them all en route to becoming a Divison I student-athlete across the pond.

As luck would have it, during a developmental camp in Finland, UNH head coach Brian McCloskey was there to scout her out. Though it was exciting to come to America to win back-to-back-to-back Hockey East championships, Taylor said the road to glory was somewhat difficult. “Everyone expects to play all the time, and that’s not the case. There’s only a small margin of people that can be successful.”

She saw a good deal of playing time freshman year, but felt her sophomore and junior seasons held less time. Though transferring may have been an option for some, Taylor thought nothing of it. “I wanted to prove I can play here. Transferring was not an option.”

Taylor noted the recruitment process of the University by adding that freshmen can just come on and “dominate” because women often start playing younger and their skills can allot them instant playing time.

With the 2008-09 Wildcats’ record sitting at 9-4-5 overall and 5-1-3 in Hockey East, Taylor is content. “There’s different dynamics this year. We should have won two of our last four losses. We’re not as dominant as we once were.”

The Wildcats still have a spark and tremendous ambition though, as they’ve yet to lose at home with a 6-0-3 record at the Whittemore Center.

Taylor has seen much ice time this year and is happy with how she is playing. Moreover, she hopes that the team will once again win the Hockey East championship. “Hockey East is growing and getting better. Everyone is more invested and part of the game. I love it.”

Women’s ice hockey is relatively new to the NCAA. Only in 2001 did the NCAA begin to sponsor the National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey Championships. In 2003, Hockey East created a women’s league. Since then, the Wildcats have been in the league tournament championship game five times and has won the title each of Taylor’s three seasons in Durham.

Though she hasn’t been playing ice hockey in America very long, Taylor has been playing with Great Britain’s Women’s National Ice Hockey Team since 2001. Last spring, Taylor scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in the IIHF Division III World Championship title game and was named Best Forward of the tournament. More importantly, Taylor served as captain of the gold medal winning squad. “I was honored. It was daunting because it was the Olympic year.” Though Taylor missed out on a few years with Great Britain because of UNH obligations, there was no jealousy amongst other teammates. It’s difficult to match the incredible experience she has amassed between the United States and Great Britain.

Taylor and the rest of Great Britain’s Women’s National Squad hope for a gold medal repeat in the 2009 International Ice Hockey Federation Games, which will be held in Torino, Italy.

Taylor’s outstanding athletic ability runs in the family. Her father Eric Taylor was an amateur cross country runner for Kilbarchan, and brother Paul played hockey for recreation.

“I actually thought I would come to the States to play basketball,” said Taylor. Her athletic capabilities lent her spots on the Scotland National Basketball U-16, U-18 and Senior Women teams.

“When I was younger, I was mental. I was extremely competitive. I was thrown out of games all the time. Coach told me that I had to be more passive in order to continue to play hockey. That mental girl rarely comes out anymore.”

Though the psychology major will graduate in May, Taylor is unsure of what the rest of her life holds. “Everyone keeps asking me that!” she joked. However, if she continues to play ice hockey, she must play in England because there are no teams for those over the age of 19 in Scotland. Also, all teams are recreational. “It’s going to be hard for my parents,” says the senior. “They’ve been watching me since I was eight.”

The 2007 Hockey East All-Academic Team member is eager to get back home to Scotland. “Getting into grad school will be more difficult because I didn’t go to school there.” However, she is up to the challenge.

Taylor and the rest of the Wildcat squad returns to action January 10 at Providence College.
 

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