Kindersley duo reflect on university hockey careers

Kennedy Harris and Kori Herner recently packed up their hockey gear after competing at the national U Sports Hockey championship

Kennedy Harris celebrates the winning goal against St. Mary’s at the recent national championships.

Kevin McBain
of The Clarion

It’s the end of the university hockey road for the two Kindersley hockey players.

Kennedy Harris and Kori Herner recently packed up their hockey gear after competing at the national U Sports Hockey championship held March 15-18 in London, Ont.

The players grew up together, played softball and hockey together and now just finished five years of Huskies hockey together.

Harris said that she had such a great career and was an assistant captain of the team for the last two seasons.

“It’s been amazing. The University of Saskatchewan is such a great school for education and sports and it was great to be a part of it,” she said.

Harris, played the role of a checking centre with the team for those five years, but in the last half of this year, her roles changed a bit and she was able to get more chances to find the back of the net.

Kori Herner

During the regular season, She scored three goals (tying a career high) and chipped in with two assists with a +/- of +3.

“I’ve always had a role on the team and that was to stop the opposition from getting a chance to score. It was a role I embraced during my career,” she said. “But in the second half I was put with a couple of scorers and I was even able to score a few. It was a lot of fun. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the season turned out.”

Both Harris and Herner started off their rookie season by winning the Canada West Championship in the 2013-14 season and finishing third in the nation. They closed off their careers finishing second in Canada West (losing out to Manitoba in the finals) and fourth in Canada, after being ranked seventh going into the tournament.

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“It was pretty great wrapping it all up with a trip to London,” said Harris. “This season, we were underdogs all the way through, but as a team we were able to go from the basement to the top which was pretty amazing.”

They started off the tournament in a big way, earning a win over the second-ranked Saint Mary’s Huskies and Harris scored her only goal of the tournament in the third period on the power play which turned out to the winning goal.

“Along with winning Canada West, scoring that goal is definitely a highlight, especially when I haven’t scored too often,” she said. “For sure it was the biggest of my career as it gave us a shot at winning the nationals. I’m always going to remember that last goal as a member of the Huskies. It will likely be my last goal in competitive hockey.”

“I would also like to thank the hockey community in Kindersley, as well as my family for all the support over the years,” she said.

Herner had a different role on the team. She came in to her university career as a scorer. She was captain of the Saskatoon Midget AAA Stars and captained the team in her final season in 2013.

The right winger was used to getting points. She appeared in 56 regular season games with the Stars and scored 23 goals and chipped in 38 assists over those two years.

She said that the adjustment from midget AAA to the university level is a tough one, but overall she enjoyed her five years playing with the team.

“It was good. It was up and down though. In my first two years I didn’t play a whole lot and found it hard to score goals,” she said. “Playing at the university level was definitely an eye opener. The players are much bigger, faster and a lot more aggressive than at the midget level.”

She said that she was started to find that scoring touch a little more in the second half of this season when the team went 10-2 after Christmas after starting the season with a 9-7 record.

Herner was named Huskie Athlete of the Week in February after scoring two goals in a weekend series with the Number 1 ranked Alberta Pandas.

She finished her Huskies career with 18 goals and 14 assists in 125 regular season games.

She said that she will miss playing competitive hockey.

“Right off the hop this season, I was ready to go, but then it went so quickly and I didn’t realize that it was soon to be over until just before the final game at nationals against Concordia,” she said. “I don’t get very emotional, but I was and I realized I just had one more game left and I wanted to go out and prove myself. It was bittersweet knowing that it was the last time I was going to be on the ice playing competitive hockey.”

What’s next?

Both ladies have been taking kinesiology and Harris said that she has applied to the University of Alberta to take occupational therapy, while Herner plans on going more on the education side and she wants to become a Phys. Ed teacher.

Both said that they want to pass along their hockey knowledge to the younger generation by coaching. Herner said that she will be working at Husky camps this summer and will be coaching a spring team, the Excel 2005 this year.

She has also helped coach her younger sister Jessie who is a defenceman with the Prince Albert Northern Bears Midget AAA team. She has helped coach her for about seven years in hockey and five years in softball.

She says that it has been great watching her sister grow and that she wants to follow in her footsteps and work towards being a Huskie as well.

“I love to see the kids develop. I’ve always wanted to be a role model for kids to look up to,” she said. “I really love the game and I do want to keep coaching. I’ve had several different types of coaches over the years and they shape who you are. I would like to take all the different aspects of them and put that into practice.”

Herner was scheduled to leave Monday for Nicaragua for 10 days as part of her schooling, something that she plans on being finished in December of this year.

Life balance

Hockey played an important role in both girls lives, obviously, but education was also very important.

Over their university careers, they were both named Huskie all-academics.

Kennedy said that it is a tough thing to handle, but you get used to it.

“It’s hard to balance sports and school work, but you do what you need to do,” she said. “It was good to be recognized in this way. They hold a brunch of us, so it is good to be honoured in that way.”

The team

The Huskies had four fifth-year players this year including Kennedy and Herner. They returned this year to the national hockey championship for the first time since the 2013-14 season when they earned a bronze.

The team earned a berth at nationals after finishing second in Canada West to the No. 1 Manitoba Bisons, who swept the Huskies in the Canada West Final.

The Huskies finished the first semester of the season with a 9-7 record before winning 10 of 12 games in the second to close out the regular season and claim second place in the conference. They knocked off the UBC Thunderbirds in two games at home before being swept by the Bisons on the road in the Canada West final.

Kennedy said that the team was great to be a part of this year.

“I think our leadership group was very good and it was so much fun to be a part of this year,” she said. “This group was special, we were really like a big family that never wanted to be a part. Even when we were separated for Christmas I think most of us couldn’t wait to get back together again.”

Herner agreed with her sentiment.

“Players on a team are usually close, but this one was the most tight-knit group that I’ve ever played on,” she said. “The older players were really close and I think that helped bring the team together. We did a lot together.”

The team finished the national championships with a 1-3 record. After beating St. Mary’s in the opener, they lost to Western 2-1 and Concordia 4-0 in the bronze medal game. The Manitoba Bisons ended up winning the event with a 2-0 win over Western.

Advice on getting to that next level

“You have to put in the extra work if you want to advance your career,” says Herner. “Kennedy and I put in a lot of extra work during the summer, going to the gym the driving to the city to do some skating.

“You have to work hard to get where you want to be,” she adds. “It might suck at the time, but it definitely pays off.”

She adds that you have to work with your skill set and improve on that.

“I found out that I have to work with what I got and not change my game,” she said. “I am not that big, but I have speed. You have to realize what your good at and use that.”

Herner did just that this year and had a university career high of six assists, 11 points and 73 shots.

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