Kelly Paton Flying With Golden Hawks
Just over two years ago on April 4th, 2016 Kelly Paton was announced the new Head Coach of the Western Mustangs, after already being an Assistant Coach and Player Development Coach in past seasons with the program. Despite a playoff upset in her first season as bench boss to the Waterloo Warriors, she did an incredible job of keeping a women’s hockey program that was reaching new heights at proper altitude. She recently guided the team to capturing the second Judy McCaw Cup in Western’s history and the programs’ first U Sports Silver Medal while hosting the National tournament in March. All this recent success only added to the shock on campus when Kelly Paton was announced the new Head Coach of the Laurier Golden Hawks last Friday May 11th.
Before her coaching days, she gave opposing bench bosses headaches with a total of 62 goals, 100 assists for 162 points over her 4 years at the University of New Hampshire. Although a Head Coach can’t score, the hope is that her scoring experience can help a Golden Hawks squad that had a league low 27 goals forward in the 2017-18 season. In her final season of her NCAA career she was the co-recipient of the Hockey East Player of the Year award and nominated for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. Leadership qualities much needed for a program who failed to produce a single major award winner, first or second team all-star or OUA rookie team member last season.
The Laurier Golden Hawks finished 13th, otherwise known as dead last in the OUA last season with a 2-3-16-3 amassing just 15 points in 24 games. Missing the playoffs by 19 points is a far cry from the dynasty of the mid 2000’s retiring Head Coach Rick Osborne had built at one point in the program’s history. The program won its first Provincial Championship since 1972 in 1999 and another one in 2002. That winning eventually turned into pure domination, as the Golden Hawks would capture 7 straight OUA Championships from 2004-2010. During this same period of time, Laurier would find themselves in the National Championship finals on 5 different occasions, capturing their one and only National title in McGill in 2005 with a 4-1 victory over the Alberta Pandas. But since their last Judy McCaw Cup in 2014, along with the emergence of programs like the Western Mustangs, Guelph Gryphons and Nipissing Lakers, the Golden Hawks have been for the most part grounded.
Some might say going from a team that fell 2-0 to the #1 ranked Manitoba Bisons in the National Championship Finals to a team in the basement of the Province is crazy. But with the right support and proper game plan in place, Western’s loss is Laurier’s gain. From New Hampshire to Mercyhurst, London to Switzerland, Kelly Paton has never been afraid to journey into the next chapter of her hockey life. An NCAA star turned Championship winning Head coach, for the young Woodstock, Ontario native this could be the most challenging and yet rewarding experience yet.