by Jeff Hicks – Kitchener-Waterloo Record
So you think women's hockey isn't tough, eh? Talk to Waterloo's Laura McIntosh. She'll set you straight.
"Everyone says women's hockey isn't really tough," lamented the veteran Ontario under-18 squad winger prior to a practice last week at Kinsmen Arena. "But if they come out and watch one of the higher level games, they'll see. There's a lot of bumping. You've got to be tough."
So, is McIntosh tough?
"I'm getting there," said the 17-year-old winger, who also played high school girls hockey for Bluevale Collegiate. "I like to think I am."
Right now, McIntosh is tough to ignore as she prepares to play at the 2007 National Women's Under-18 Championships, Nov. 7-11 at the Aud.
McIntosh will skate for the veteran-laden Ontario Red team in a tourney that features Ontario Blue, B.C., Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Atlantic entries.
She's in her third year in the under-18 program and hopes to land a college hockey scholarship. She'd like to study education or kinesiology, too.
Eventually, her hockey path could lead her to the national women's team.
"She can play any game," Ontario Red coach Steve Seguin said of McIntosh. "That's one of her talents. She has the ability to play any style. And the women's game is a tough game."
Even if body checking is a no-no.
Still, the women's game is also adjusting to the stricter standards of rules enforcement that have been implemented into the men's game.
"Women's hockey didn't really need a fix," Seguin said.
"Women's hockey has always been a fantastic flow game, a skill-based game . . . Female hockey players were used to playing a physical style but not a rough style. It's not an after-the-whistle kind of thing. That's one of the major differences between the two games."
McIntosh has been coached by longtime national team player Danielle Goyette at the under-18 level.
Seguin likens McIntosh to another national team player.
"She brings all the tools," Seguin said of McIntosh. "You think of the Jayna Heffords. Somebody who works extremely hard all the time on the ice, in practice and games, and just has a fantastic attitude coming to the rink. I think that's the intangible that she brings that's different than a lot of kids."