Guests packed the Journey to Churchill Exhibit at the Assinboine Park Zoo to celebrate the University of Manitoba hockey programs during their annual scholarship fundraiser Jan. 24. The night was a special occasion for Caitlin MacDonald, who was inducted into the Bison hockey hall of fame.
MacDonald was an impact player throughout her career, piling up 58 points – 23 goals and 35 assists – across five full seasons at the University of Manitoba. The defender was a four-time Canada West first team all-star, and once a Canada West second team all-star. She was also a three time U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian – in 2012, 2013, and 2014 – while studying in the Asper school of business.
“I am humbled to be receiving this honour,” MacDonald said. “Stacey Corfield and Addie Miles, who preceded me with this recognition, were both tremendous athletes and people and I feel lucky to be recognized in a category with them.”
The product of Prince George, B.C., made an immediate impact upon joining the herd for the 2009-10 season. She recorded 15 points – six goals and nine assists – in 24 games on the Bisons blueline, earning her rookie of the year honours.
MacDonald made even more history during her rookie season after being called on to represent Canada at the 2010 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship. She was one of the first female Bisons selected to a Team Canada squad and recorded a goal and three assists en route to a gold-medal finish. Fellow Bison Brigette Lacquette was also selected to the U18 team.
“My selection for the U18 World Championships was really a compliment to Jon Rempel and the Bisons program, and the platform it provided me with to prove myself at the national level,” MacDonald said.
“Although I ultimately decided to step away from pursuing hockey at this level, it meant so much to me to play for my country and accomplish this lifetime goal.”
Lacquette became the first Indigenous woman named to a Canadian Olympic hockey roster and will compete in South Korea next month.
“This is a huge honour for her and a very exciting opportunity, even above and beyond the Olympics themselves,” MacDonald said of her former teammate. “I hope she and all of the other women named to the Olympic roster use the platform to set an example for young girls both as athletes and as people.”
During her final season with the Bisons, MacDonald added to her trophy cabinet. She was named an alternate captain for Team Canada during the 2013 Winter Universiade in Italy, capturing another gold medal on the international stage.
“With the Universiade, it was an opportunity to see and play with all the top players across the CIS and its comparability to American Division 1 Athletics,” MacDonald said.
“The Universiade further confirmed this for me as I got to see the talent of the top players across the CIS first hand.”
Despite the accolades and success on the international stage, for MacDonald, her time with Manitoba was made special by those she met.
“Although it’s cliché, I really have to say that it has been the opportunity to meet the people that I have,” she said.
“I will always remember and appreciate how good Jon Rempel and Rob Voth were to me, and the friendships and impact that the people I met in this program have had on me.”
Post-Bisons, MacDonald has kept busy with a fledgling career in the financial sector. She earned a bachelor of commerce – double majoring in accounting and finance – and is currently working in her preferred field. While many would expect her to stay involved with hockey, she is happy to have stepped away.
“After spending most of my life revolving around hockey,” she said, “there are other exciting things that I want to explore and invest my time in now.”