By Thomas Becker
Their competition is getting bigger and stronger, but so too are the UPEI Panthers.
To contend with the likes of the reigning AUS champion St. FX X-Women and the Saint Mary's Huskies, head coach Bruce Donaldson feels the added combination of size and scoring punch to the lineup could be the blueprint for a longer playoff run, and maybe even a championship.
Donaldson's latest recruit, Paige Outhouse, is another forward who brings the qualities he's been looking for this offseason. With Outhouse into the fold, the Panthers now carry five forwards standing at five-foot-eight and above, each of whom complement smaller finesse players like Faith Steeves, Jenna Pellerin and Taylor Gillis.
"The league is getting quicker and bigger, and the physical compete level is one of the places we need to be much more consistent in," Donaldson said. "Paige is a player who'll provide added depth and physical strength to our lineup."
The 18-year-old last played for the BC Female Midget AAA Northern Capitals where she captained the team. In 32 games, Outhouse found the back of the net just seven times, but where she brings the most value is with her passing ability (17 assists in 2019-20) and her versatility.
"I'm an offensive and defensive centreman, willing to do anything on the ice for my team to be the best we can be," said the Williams Lake, BC native. "My strengths as a player are passing, reading the ice, and my work ethic. I see myself fitting in with the team quite nicely."
Even though she'll be travelling to the opposite side of the country, her small-town upbringing made UPEI the perfect landing spot for the young rookie. It also doesn't hurt that her father grew up in Nova Scotia.
"I decided to join UPEI because not only is the school a perfect fit for me, but their hockey program and coaching staff are highly respected and they have great things going on for them," Outhouse said.
As for goals and expectations, Outhouse is hoping to make a smooth transition with her new hockey family and improve each day she's on the ice.
"I'm excited to be part of all this," she said. "I'm excited to play with amazing older players and eventually get to where they are in their lives with hockey and schooling."
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