Monday, 9 September 2013

Amanda Mazzotta extends glorious career in coaching role with Western Mustangs

Photo credit by Jim Rosvold

The winningest goaltender in Cornell Big Red history, Amanda Mazzotta is returning to hockey. Sharing her expertise as a coach, she shall embark a new chapter in her storied career.

She first rose to prominence in 2007 when she was named Top Goaltender at the Canadian Under-18 Nationals. With the famed Team Ontario Red program, she led the club to a golden finish. The following year, she found herself as a member of the Canadian contingent that participated in the first-ever IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Hockey Championships.

Despite winning a silver medal, the event would mark the beginning of a remarkable run that saw her eventually graduate from Ivy League Cornell as the program’s all-time wins leader.

A member of the Red Key Athlete Honor Society at Cornell, Mazzotta would have her best season in 2009-10. Having compiled a remarkable 21-8-6 record, she led the Big Red to the championship game of the Frozen Four. In one of the most classic games in women’s hockey history, Mazzotta made a game-best 61 saves in a triple overtime loss.

Selected in the historic 2012 CWHL Draft by the Brampton Thunder after her Cornell career reached its climax, Mazzotta never had the opportunity to compete for the squad. While the club had returning goalie Liz Knox (the first rookie goalie to start a Clarkson Cup championship game), Florence Schelling (who helped Switzerland win a bronze at the 2012 IIHF Worlds) was loaned to the Thunder. Unfortunately, Mazzotta was not part of the roster and fans were cheated out of seeing a superlative goaltender.

Enrolling at the University of Western Ontario in autumn 2012, Mazzotta is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology, with a specialty in Coaching. While there is an element of classroom studies, Mazzotta will gain some practical experience this season.

As the newest member of Chris Higgins coaching staff with the Mustangs women’s hockey team, Mazzotta is joining a team that has a solid 2012-13 record of 23 wins and 10 losses (complemented by a sparkling 13-3 road record). Of greater benefit to the Mustangs is that she spent part of her summer participating in Hockey Canada’s National Women’s Program Goaltending Camp.

Serving as the group leader of the eight Under-18 goalies in attendance, Mazzotta had the opportunity to work with the likes of Hannah Baker, who led the Whitby Wolves to the PWHL championship in 2013, Kassidy Sauve, the first girl to play in the OHL Cup and Taylor Crosby, younger sister of Sidney Crosby.
Mazzotta’s acumen and leadership will be essential to a club that had a breakthrough in the 2013 OUA Playoffs. After eliminating the famed Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in the OUA Semis, the Mustangs competed against the Queen’s Golden Gaels in the conference finals.

Led by the dynamic duo of sensation sisters Cassidy and Katelyn Gosling (like Mazzotta, they both played for the London Devilettes), the upcoming season promises to build on the momentum from the prior. Brittany Clapham is a tough defensive forward while Stacey Scott ranked fifth in the OUA in goals scored.

Of the three goalies on the Mustangs roster, all should see their game improve and their skills sharpened under the tutelage of Mazzotta. Olivia Ross is the veteran, as she enters her fourth season.
Kelly Campbell will be competing in her third season, while sophomore Katie Jacobs, another Devilettes alumnus, is the youngest. Campbell was the top goaltender this past season, as she posted a 15-6 mark, a .942 save percentage and the sixth best goals against average in the OUA with a 2.01 number. Hailing from St. Thomas, Ontario, Campbell will likely earn the starting nod this season.

As the OUA conference is the most competitive in Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s hockey, it will be another uphill climb for the Mustangs to return to the OUA championship finals. Elite teams such as Guelph, Laurier, Queen’s and Toronto will all be looking to make a statement in the championship picture.

Regardless of the outcome, one assurance for the Mustangs is that the presence of Mazzotta will ensure a very strong performance between the pipes. Adding another valuable piece to the Mustangs ambitious championship puzzle, it is great to see Mazzotta back in the game. 

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