McKibbon, Nurse join Wisconsin Badgers in fall
Two Stoney Creek Junior Sabres players are looking to make their mark across the border between the posts this fall.
Forwards Sydney McKibbon, 18, and Sarah Nurse, 18, have received scholarships to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will join the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 Badgers women’s ice hockey team for the 2013-14 season.
“I am so honoured at the opportunity to play hockey for a Big Ten (Conference) school and I can’t wait to get the season started,” McKibbon said.
“I feel extremely excited to join the team,” Nurse said. “It’s an incredible school with a lot of tradition. The hockey program has had a lot of success in the past and I hope to be able to be a part of winning a national championship in the coming years.”
McKibbon and Nurse spent three seasons with the Sabres, with McKibbon adding 79 goals and 139 assists and Nurse pitching in 135 goals and 119 assists to the team’s efforts.
Both players agreed there were a number of highlights throughout their careers with the Sabres, but one trumped them all.
“The biggest highlight was my last game in a Sabres jersey when we won a bronze medal at the provincials,” McKibbon said. “That was a great way to end my career with the team.”
Nurse said the Sabres had been plagued by injuries all season.
“During provincials, we played with only 10 players all weekend and we managed to get the bronze medal,” she said. “We all left everything on the ice. I was extremely proud of everyone and our efforts.”
McKibbon, who began playing hockey at age four, also has hit the ice for Team Canada, helping the team earn a gold medal at the under-18 world championships last year in Finland.
She’s been a member of Team Ontario Red, which scored bronze at the under-18 national championships last year in British Columbia, and Team Ontario Blue as well.
For Nurse, who started playing hockey at age five, the sport is a family affair.
She has two younger brothers who play minor hockey in Hamilton and her cousin Darnell Nurse was signed by the Edmonton Oilers to a three-year entry-level contract last month, after the Oilers selected the 18-year-old defenceman seventh overall at the 2013 National Hockey League draft in June.
Nurse also was a member of the Team Canada gold and Team Ontario Red bronze medal winning teams.
In addition, she helped Team Ontario Red score a gold medal at the under-18 national championships in 2011 in Quebec.
McKibbon and Nurse agreed their run with the Sabres has helped get them ready for their time with the Badgers.
McKibbon said the team’s coaching staff does a “great job” at preparing players for university hockey, both on and off the ice.
“The Sabres coaching staff really care and work on helping you get to the next level,” Nurse said. “They emphasize hard work, team chemistry and an effort-in, results-out policy. Our coaches make sure that at the end of our Sabres careers that we have every tool and opportunity to be successful.”
Sabres head coach Stacey Marnoch said McKibbon and Nurse will be missed.
“Wisconsin is lucky to have them; they are phenomenally talented hockey players and amazing leaders. They epitomize ‘Sabres family’ and putting the team ahead of yourself,” she said. “They are talented, but aren’t afraid to work hard and earn their ice time. They will bring a strong ‘team first’ mentality and will, without question, take on any roll that is asked of them and do it to the best of their ability.”
McKibbon and Nurse said they’re excited about beginning their run with the Badgers and contributing to the team.
“I can’t wait for my first game; I hope to bring my playmaking abilities around the net and to just be a great team player,” McKibbon said.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of an incredible tradition and hopefully making some runs at national championships,” Nurse said. “I look forward to learning from all the veteran players and my coaching staff. I hope to be a good teammate, an offensive threat and a player that is dependable in both ends of the rink.”