Step closer to Tokyo
Madison Grant tabbed as one of Canada’s next generation of world-class players
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.
Madison Grant is part of Rugby Canada's centralized roster of 25 women's players.