Tenacity is one of the many attributes coach Brad Muise admired about defenceman Allie Munroe when she played for the Western Hurricanes in the Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League (NSMBHL) from 2010-12.
One specific play during the club’s 2012 playoff series against the Truro Bearcats encapsulated the competitive fire Munroe brought to the rink day in and day out.
The setting: Queens Place Emera Centre in Liverpool, N.S., home of the Hurricanes (now the South Shore Lumberjacks).
The scene: It’s midway through Game 1, Truro is leading 1-0 and the Hurricanes don’t have an answer for one of the Bearcats' forwards.
“He seemed to have no problem coming through the neutral zone despite the amount of forechecking coverage that we had in the neutral zone,” said Muise. “I just said ‘I need somebody here.’”
Muise looked down the bench and one of his fellow coaches signalled that Munroe was ready to come through with the big play.
“This kid came down the middle, and she just timed what I would call a Larry Robinson-type hip check on him,” says Muise. “It was clean, it was beautiful and the bench just exploded.”
The team fed off the energy of the hip check and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 6-1 blowout victory. The Hurricanes proceeded to close out the series, capture the league title and earn a berth at Nova Scotia provincials.
Munroe has returned this week to Queens Place Emera Centre as a player participating in the 2019 BFL National Women's Team Fall Festival.
“Even when I saw the building coming up from the highway, the memories came flooding back,” she says. “The main one that I remembered was when we hosted provincials here. It was such a packed crowd.”
The 22-year-old is pleased that fans are turning out this week to provide a similar vibrant playing atmosphere for the 47 women taking part in the annual start-of-season camp.
She hasn’t reunited with many of her former teammates or coaches yet, but will have an opportunity to meet up with Muise and others after the second Red-White match-up on Saturday night.
The Yarmouth, N.S., native, currently playing for Djurgårdens IF in the Svenska Damhockeyligan in Sweden, agrees with Muise that her drive to work hard and improve propelled her from the Hurricanes to where she is today.
“I think being from a small town and a small province, the key message is never to give up,” says Munroe. “You keep working hard every single day. Hard work, it doesn’t require talent, right? That mentality to never give up propelled me.”
The 2010-11 season was a campaign that defined her tenaciousness as Munroe did not make the full-time roster for the Hurricanes out of training camp.
“We thought long and hard about keeping her that first year,” said Muise. “Her compete level was off the charts, and the ability to battle to deny shots and space were there.”
She was called upon by the Hurricanes coaches to work on refining her raw abilities and positional play for her to be a full-time impact player with the Hurricanes the following season.
She demonstrated her commitment to self-improvement by attending as many practices with the club as possible even though Yarmouth is two hours away from Liverpool.
“It was fun to watch her in those moments of being under pressure and doing drills with complexity and difficulty,” says Muise. “She just got better by leaps and bounds every week.”
Her hard work earned her some regular-season games as an affiliate – and even an appearance at provincials.
Munroe’s attitude on and off the ice inspired her teammates and coaches back then. Seven years later, she knows she can help encourage the next generation of players in Nova Scotia. She aims to do so by being a model player, assisting at summer camps – she helped at two this past summer – and connecting with young fans during autograph sessions. Munroe and fellow Nova Scotians Blayre Turnbull and Jill Saulnier signed autographs together early in the festival.
“It is great to know that so many young girls can come and see so many great female athletes,” says Munroe. “We don’t get too many opportunities in Nova Scotia to watch this high-level hockey. Hopefully, they can become inspired to play hockey and sports in general.”