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CWHL Draft Preview: Defence

The defenders available means that Montreal should improve the blue line

Darl Zehr

There are a record 81 prospects registered for the 2016 CWHL Player Draft. This is the second of three articles highlighting the top players at each position, as well as those who seem like fits in Montreal with Les Canadiennes.

The CWHL Draft works differently than most drafts we see in sports. When they register for the draft, the players can choose up to three teams they would be willing to play for, and only those teams can draft the player. If a player chooses the Greater Toronto Area, that counts as two teams as both the Toronto Furies and Brampton Thunder can choose the player.

Once a player is registered, any team they list can pick them at any point. There can be no preferences within a player’s multi-team list.

Here are some of the top defenders available on Sunday.

Erin Ambrose, Clarkson

Ambrose just finished her career at Clarkson University where she was alternate captain for her final two seasons. She is the leading scoring defender in school history.

This season, she led all defenders on Clarkson in scoring despite missing the season’s first nine games. She had 28 points in 30 games and was a nominee for the ECAC Best Defenseman Award. She was also a two-time nominee for NCAA Player of the Year, in 2014-15 and 2013-14. She won the National Championship with Clarkson in 2013-14.

She was a member of Canada’s National Development Team the past two seasons and this January won a Gold Medal with Canada at the Nations Cup. She also represented Canada at three Under-18 World Championships, including being one of the few defenders to make the team at 15 years old.

Renata Fast, Clarkson

Ambrose’s teammate at Clarkson, Fast is more of a defensive defender compared to her teammate. Fast only had 57 points in 144 NCAA games, but did happen to score the fastest goal in NCAA Tournament history 10 seconds into a quarterfinal game this season.

Fast also has a history with Hockey Canada. She was on the National Development team for the last two years and played with Canada at the 4 Nations Cup last October, a team that also featured Canadiennes Marie-Philip Poulin and Lauriane Rougeau.

Like Ambrose, she also was part of the 2013-14 National Championship. She is someone who can step into a CWHL lineup and perform right away.

Brittney Fouracres, McGill

Like Ambrose and Fast, Fouracres is a right-handed defender. Les Canadiennes only had two right-handed shots on their entire team last year, defenders Carly Hill and Julie Chu.

Fouracres also has a history with the Canadian National Development program, as she was invited to the 2014-15 camp.

Her crowning moment may be when she scored the winning goal in the 2014 CIS Championship final in double overtime.

She is from Leduc, AB and has represented Canada twice at the Winter Universiade.

She played big minutes for McGill in all situations and was one of the best power play QBs in the CIS. She is a player who could step into a CWHL lineup and make an instant impact even though she doesn’t have the name pedigree as others in the draft.

Much like Katia Clement-Heydra last year, she is a player who has flown under the radar and comes from a very good McGill program. If you star at McGill, you can star in the CWHL.

Cassandra Poudrier, Cornell

Poudrier is from Mont-Laurier, QC and played the last four seasons with the Cornell Big Red, the school that produced CWHL stars Lauriane Rougeau, Rebecca Johnston and Brianne Jenner.

She has experience in the National Team program, playing at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships and at the 2015 Nations Cup in Germany. Canada won gold on both occasions.

In the clip below, she talks about when she knew she wanted to play for Team Canada with a great story surrounding the 2002 Gold Medal game.

Poudrier spent last year playing all situations for Cornell. She was on the top defence pairing, the power play and penalty kill. She blocked 84 shots in her senior year this past season. She was also the team’s captain.

Before Cornell, she played at the CEGEP level with Dawson College. She is a left-handed shot and was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team in 2013.

There are other defenders available, including three players from Japan - Nachi Fujimoto, Sato Kikuchi, and Rina Takeda. There are also six Americans and several other Canadian-born NCAA graduates including Melanie Desrochers, Carlee Eusepi, and Ella Stewart.