Step closer to Tokyo

Madi­son Grant tabbed as one of Canada’s next gen­er­a­tion of world-class play­ers

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - SPORTS - TODD HAM­BLE­TON

In early Au­gust, Corn­wall’s Madi­son Grant moved across the coun­try to pur­sue her goal of com­pet­ing in the 2020 Sum­mer Olympics.

Two months later, the 16-year-old liv­ing in Lang­ford, Bri­tish Columbia, has taken an­other step closer to Tokyo, Ja­pan.

Grant has been in­cluded on Rugby Canada’s just-re­leased cen­tral­ized ros­ter of 25 women’s play­ers from which com­peti­tors will be drawn for the 2017-18 HSBC Rugby Women’s Seven Se­ries, which gets un­der­way Nov. 30 in Dubai, UAE.

Rugby Canada, in a news re­lease from head­quar­ters in Lang­ford on Van­cou­ver Is­land, says Grant, a for­mer stu­dent at St. Joseph’s Sec­ondary School, has been tabbed as one of Canada’s next gen­er­a­tion of world-class fe­male play­ers, and she’s part of a ros­ter that in­cludes nine mem­bers of the coun­try’s bronze medal-win­ning squad at the 2016 Rio Sum­mer Olympics.

“With the start of the new Olympic cy­cle al­ready un­der­way, it’s hugely im­por­tant to us to get what we cur­rently be­lieve is the core of the team that will be in Tokyo 2020 work­ing and grow­ing to­gether as a group ,’’ said John Tait, head coach of Canada’s Women’s Sev­ens Pro­gram.

“The pro­gram has evolved greatly over the last five years, and it’s grat­i­fy­ing to see the ath­letes we iden­ti­fied for the Youth Olympics, Youth Com­mon­wealth Games and FISU 7s teams com­ing through and pro­vid­ing us with some qual­ity depth within this new cen­tral­ized group.

“We are a much more skilled and phys­i­cally tal­ented group than where we fin­ished the last quad and it’s ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary to keep the top devel­op­ment play­ers train­ing and ac­cess­ing the sup­port of our cen­tral­ized pro­gram.’’

Tait likes hav­ing a blend of veter­ans from the Rio Games and rel­a­tive new­com­ers to the pro­gram on the ros­ter.

“The re­turn­ing play­ers will en­hance the skill sets and ex­pe­dite the game un­der­stand­ing of our devel­op­ment play­ers by train­ing along­side them ’’ he said .“My ex­pec­ta­tion is that those devel­op­ment ath­letes will in turn push those se­nior play­ers for selec­tion in the years ahead.’’

The up­com­ing com­pe­ti­tion in Dubai is Nov. 30 to Dec. 1. Next spring, Canada at Westhills Sta­dium in Lang­ford will for a fourth straight year host the HSBC Women’s Seven Se­ries, May 12-13.

Grant be­gan play­ing for the Panthers high school team two springs ago, and she’s been a mem­ber of the Corn­wall Clay­mores club team.

This sure doesn’t hap­pen very of­ten in the North Coun­try: vis­its on back-to-back nights from Big Ten pro­grams.

The Penn State Nit­tany Lions and Michi­gan Wolver­ines were in the re­gion over the week­end, for NCAA Di­vi­sion l non-con­fer­ence hockey ac­tion, at both Cheel Arena at Clark­son Univer­sity in Pots­dam, N.Y., and at Ap­ple­ton Arena at St. Lawrence Univer­sity in Can­ton.

In Michi­gan’s case, it was the first time the Wolver­ines have played in Pots­dam against the Golden Knights since 1959.

The Golden Knights, whose ros­ter of for­wards in­cludes a cou­ple of for­mer Jr. A Colts cap­tains, Marly Quince ( ju­nior year) and Grant Cooper (fresh­man), beat Penn State 2-1 on Fri­day night, in front of 2,317. (Clark­son as­sis­tant coach Phil Roy also is a for­mer Colts player, back in the Nineties.)

The Golden Knights got off to a quick start — Quince con­nected just 14 sec­onds into the first pe­riod.

The Nit­tany Lions fell be­hind 2-0 late in the sec­ond pe­riod but an­swered just over a minute later, on a Bran­don Biro goal at 14:40.

Col­lect­ing one of the as­sists on the marker? Kris Myl­lari, a Penn State sopho­more (sec­ond) year de­fence­man with fam­ily ties to the Sea­way Val­ley.

Myl­lari is the 20-year-old son of Dawn and Roy Myl­lari, the for­mer Corn­wall Roy­als player in the early Eight­ies who won a Me­mo­rial Cup national cham­pi­onship in 1984 with the Ottawa 67’s.

Kris My ll ari’ s grand­par­ents are the Hon. Ed Lumley and Pat Lumley.

On Saturday night in Pots­dam, in front of 2,688, Quince had an­other good night, col­lect­ing two as­sists in a 3-0 Clark­son win over the Wolver­ines.

Mean­while, in Can­ton, the Saints, whose coach­ing staff in­cludes as­so­ci­ate head coach Mike Hurl­but, the for­mer Corn­wall Aces (AHL) cap­tain, had a tough week­end, first fall­ing on Fri­day to Michi­gan by a score of 3-1, with 2,176 look­ing on.

The next night, Penn State skated past the Saints 4-1, in front of 2,758, and it was Myl­lari who opened the scor­ing at the 9:33 mark of the first pe­riod.

Myl­lari be­gan his ju­nior hockey ca­reer in the CCHL with the Kanata Stal­lions, be­fore mov­ing on to Youngstown, Ohio, and two sea­sons with the USHL Phan­toms.

In his fresh­man year at Penn State, Myl­lari had eight goals and nine as­sists for 17 points in 38 games.

The young Nit­tany Lions pro­gram, cur­rently ranked No. 10, had a mem­o­rable 2016-17 cam­paign, which in­cluded a thrilling marathon run to a Big Ten Tour­na­ment ti­tle in Detroit, ul­ti­mately ad­vanc­ing to the NCAA regional fi­nals be­fore be­ing elim­i­nated by the Univer­sity of Den­ver Pi­o­neers.

Den­ver went on to win the Frozen Four national cham­pi­onship, in Chicago.

FILE PHOTO/CORN­WALL STAN­DARD-FREEHOLDER

Madi­son Grant is part of Rugby Canada's cen­tral­ized ros­ter of 25 women's play­ers.

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