Xclusive Interview - UNB Reds Star Ashley Stratton

It only took Mount Pearl native Ashley Stratton 1 year to become a star in Fredericton, NB. Stratton's 30 point season led the Lady Reds, who were an expansion team of sorts only two seasons ago. "We were a new team (in 2018-19), but we have the ability to compete with the top-tier teams in the AUS" said the 20 year old.

The highly-skilled forward, who played at the Ontario Hockey Academy in Cornwall, ON for 3 years before joining the UNB Reds in 2018-19, took some time out of her Tuesday evening to chat about everything from travel to television. Enjoy.

AP: You spent 3 years at the Ontario Hockey Academy in Cornwall; lets touch on your time spent there.

AS: I think that only 5 players from our 2017-18 OHA team didn't go on to play NCAA or USPORT hockey when they graduated, which is pretty amazing. Overall, OHA promotes hockey but it does prepare you for post-secondary education too. I'm studying kinesiology at UNB, and I feel like attending OHA helped me become a better student for that.

AP: Lets move on to the 2019-20 season for the UNB Reds. You guys finished the year on a heater, winning 6 of your last 8. Do you have a lot of optimism heading into the 2020-21 season assuming it starts on time?

AS: We have grown a lot, and will continue to grow as a team as we become more mature and gain more experience. We feel we can compete with everyone in the league - we haven’t been able to get past the semi-final but we are excited about what we have, and are excited about the new players coming into the program.

AP: You had a breakout year in 2019-20 - you led your team in scoring, and were the only player to snipe in the double digits. You produced exactly double the points from your freshman season (brushes off shoulder). What led to such a big year?

AS: My first year I wasn't sure what to expect. I trained a lot harder last summer (2019), but I was much more confident in the league; I felt like the one season of experience really helped me. UNB gave me a training program last summer, and I really committed to that along with some sporadic training sessions with Tom Walsh.

Side Note: Shout out to Tom Walsh, Tom was an assistant with the Bantam AAA Female Ice Breakers so I got to spend some time with him at practices. Good guy, does a lot for youth ball hockey in the province.

AP: What are you watching on TV right now? (I enjoy sticking in random questions to make people uncomfortable)

AS: Animal Kingdom

Side Note: This was the only short answer Ashley gave me all night, probably wondering 'why the f^*@ are you asking me this..(!)...so I just started talking about Donald Trump and moved on to the next question

AP: There aren't a great deal of local ladies playing at the USPORT level - lets talk about the league. The calibre, travel, and so on.

AS: We play 28 regular season games and a max of 3 rounds of playoffs (6 teams make the playoffs). Games are on weekends, but we might sneak a game in on a Wednesday if the games are close by. The USPORT AUS league is a high-calibre league, high-intensity, it’s competitive, and i’d like to see more locals playing here! We also do a pre-season weekend down in the USA - last year was Maine, the year before was UNH. We competed fairly well against Maine - a couple of goals in the difference which is pretty good against a high-calibre D1 program.

AP: Throw out 2 key points of advice that a 13,14,15, 16 year old female aspiring to play college hockey needs to listen to.

AS: You have to WANT it - you have to work at everything regardless if whether you’re the strongest on the team or not. Second - don’t compare yourself to someone else. “i’m not as good as the other person” shouldn’t be thought of!

AP: NL is producing a lot of top-flight female talent right now. Do you think that female hockey in this province is on the right track?

AS: I’d like to see the game promoted more here, especially at the Bantam (now U16) and Midget (now U18) level. I'd like to see more players to come out and play the game, and would like to see more female players graduating to higher levels of hockey whether it be prep school or college.

Special thank you to Ashley for devoting a portion of her night to shoot the sh*t with me. UNB have long been a mens hockey powerhouse, but with strong players like Ashley in the fold, the female hockey team could soon be doing championship laps around the Aitken Centre in Freddy Beach.