The St. Mary’s Academy Prep Squad continues to serve as a pipeline of talent for the University of Manitoba Bisons. The recent commitments of St. Mary’s forward Ashley Keller and goaltender Emily Shippam have been glorified further with the addition of Flames’ captain Jessica Haner.
Haner, 17, will join her fellow 2003-born St. Mary’s teammates in the Bisons’ brown and gold in 2021-22, despite looking to fulfill the vast requirements of a university engineering degree. The Flames’ leader – both on and off the ice – is expected to fill a sizeable hole on Manitoba’s offence alongside Keller, while Shippam will wait for her turn in net.
“St Mary’s has been very good to our program in the last couple years here in terms of recruits,” said Bisons head coach Jon Rempel. “This will be three years in a row where we have picked up some of their top players. I am really excited by all three of the girls coming in. I think they are just a really good fit and are going to make our program better.”
Rempel, who has seen the university sporting career of numerous Flames from start to finish during his time behind the bench at the University of Manitoba, will approach 2021-22 with some additional excitement, considering the cancellation of the 2020-21 season due to the ongoing pandemic.
“Jessie is a really energetic player who brings tenacity and plays the game very hard,” he said of Haner. “She plays way above her size and much bigger than she is. She affects the game in a lot of different ways and she is extremely brilliant student as well. For her to take on engineering at this level, that is a big commitment for a student athlete. I am really excited by Jessie.”
Haner, of Oakbank, was beginning her fourth year with the Flames in 2020-21. After breaking onto the scene with 14 regular season games played in 2017-18, the 5-foot-5 playmaker skated in 51 contests with the prep squad the following two seasons. She had 13 goals, 24 points and 59 penalty minutes the past three seasons.
“Ashley is probably one of the most well-rounded players coming out of that level that I’ve seen in a long time,” Rempel said of Keller. “I’ve known Ashley for a long time. I’ve watched her since she was probably 12 years old, so I am very familiar with her game and her path forward. Her trajectory is very high; she has the ability to be one of those game-changing players at this level. She is a very smart, extremely unselfish hockey player who really does make players around her better. So I am really excited by that.”
Keller first skated with St. Mary’s in 2018-19 and has been with the team ever since. In 52 regular season league games, the 5-foot-9 forward had 19 goals, 39 points and 16 penalty minutes. Last season, she put up 19 points in 22 games, before getting off to another hot start with two goals and four points in three games this past fall.
“Emily is going to red shirt next year,” Rempel said of goaltender Shippam. “It was just a good idea for her and a good idea for our program where we are. We have two young goalies in front of her right now and another veteran goalie. So the timing worked well for her. I think she’s comfortable in that position. But again, Emily is one of those players where the upside is very big. She is an extremely hard worker, very diligent and also comes from great family, which always helps.”
Shippam joined the Flames for 2019-20, where she put up a 2.38 goals against average and a .896 save percentage in 11 contests, going 6-5-0 with one shutout in the process. She started two games in the abbreviated 2020-21 season prior to the province-wide shutdown.