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Donovan shines for hockey X-Women

Lindsay Donovan is playing her fourth season on defense with the St. F.X. X-Women hockey program. CONTRIBUTED BY BRYAN KENNEDY
Lindsay Donovan is playing her fourth season on defense with the St. F.X. X-Women hockey program. CONTRIBUTED BY BRYAN KENNEDY - Corey LeBlanc

All-star shooting for first AUS crown

ANTIGONISH, N.S. —

ANTIGONISH, N.S. — Lindsey Donovan’s hockey story began like most Canadian youngsters.
The fourth-year St. F.X. X-Women defender laced up her skates and took the ice for the first time with her father (Mike) and brother (Ryan).
“They would always be on the pond and, I think, one day they encouraged me to come and try it out,” the Miramichi, N.B. native said.
“I went with them and I really enjoyed skating and I started playing minor hockey the next year.”
She was five years old.
“I loved it right from the start and I have always known that hockey is my passion,” Donovan said.
Although she was a multi-sport athlete, she knew hockey was her true focus.
Fast-forward more than a decade later, when the up-and-coming player was skating with the Rothesay-Netherwood Nighthawks, and she was deliberating about her hockey future.
“Going to a prep school, everyone there always has the mindset Division 1, Division 1, Division 1, so I never thought about staying in Canada,” she recalled her focus on heading to the United States to play in the NCAA.
Then came a meeting with long-time X-Women assistant coach Willie-Jo Sofan at a tournament, who invited Donovan and her mother to visit the St. F.X. campus.
She resisted, but her mother encouraged her “to go check it out.”
“I came here and I fell in love,” Donovan said, noting it cemented her decision to attend St. F.X.
The great coaching staff also influenced her choice.
“It all made my decision so easy,” Donovan noted.
A smile sweeps across her face, when asked if she is happy with her choice.
“I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else,” Donovan said.

‘Impact player’ 
Neither could X-Women head coach Ben Berthiaume.
"Lindsey has really grown into a great player and is a threat every time she is on the ice,” he said.
"She always has her head up and sees the whole ice, and she can take over a game whenever she wants to.”
Berthiaume noted such attributes are key and so hard to find.
“She is an impact player,” he said.
That ‘impact’ comes on each end of the ice, whether it is quarterbacking a power play or patrolling the ‘D’ zone.
Donovan is often touted for her ability to dictate the pace of the game, whether it is slowing it down or speeding it up; whatever the situation requires.
“It is just something that comes naturally — I don’t even realize (it). People tell me that I am a really calm presence,” she said.
“I honestly just go out there and play my game.”
Donovan deflects praise as deftly as she does shot attempts or steers opponents away from the X-Women net. 
She takes a long pause when asked about what makes her a strong player.
“Obviously, my teammates — they help me get better and push me to get better every day,” Donovan said.
She also credits her “hard work” off the ice, including increased time in the training room which has become a year-round proposition.
Josh (Crouse, St. F.X. head strength and conditioning coach) has really helped me a lot. He has helped everyone on all the X teams a lot,” Donovan said.

Lead by example
She has also strengthened her leadership skills, which also drew praise from Berthiaume.
“Lindsey leads by example — she is a gamer and comes to play every time she is on the ice,” Berthiaume said, noting the X-Women feed off that dedication.
She was asked about her leadership role and how it has evolved.
“I try my best to encourage my teammates — I think that is the most important thing,” Donovan offered.
Like her head coach, she described herself more as a leader by example.
“I do step in, obviously, and be a vocal leader, when I need to be,” Donovan noted.
Describing her experience with the U Sports women's hockey all-stars roster at Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase in Calgary as “excellent,” he added she has applied what she has learned — on and off the ice.
“All the players are there to showcase U Sports, so they are obviously trying to bring their best game,” Donovan said, while reflecting on that national experience.
The X-Women assistant captain said she learned so much from her U Sports’ teammates, including leadership skills.
"Sometimes I don’t even realize that I am learning from them but I come back and I remember that so-and-so did this or so-and-so did that, and it really helps,” Donovan said.
“Every year I have learned something new.”
        
‘Close-knit’ team
Donovan, who has decided she will return for a fifth varsity campaign next fall, said the X-Women are focused on returning to familiar territory — raising an AUS championship banner.
“We are trying our best and we know what we have to do, so we just have to go out and do it,” she said.
The X-Women have not captured the conference crown since 2015, which means a missing piece to the all-star’s resume.
“We are a really hard-working and very, very close-knit team,” she said.
Donovan added the X-Women have what it takes to return to the top of the conference mountain.

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