Kyla Morris is looking forward to an awesome second year with the Blues. (Courtesy Kyla Morris)
Last year, Kyla Morris was a raw rookie with the Dawson Blues. This year? Higher expectations: from herself and her coach.
“I think I’m looking forward to actually playing a lot more and not being a rookie anymore,” said Morris.
Her goals? “To show that I can play just as good as the other girls on the team. Last year I felt like I constantly had to prove myself to them because I felt like I wasn’t as good, almost like I wasn’t supposed to be there. Just playing my best and working my hardest so I can get to where I want to be,” she said.
With age comes more responsibility as well, and she knows her move to centre comes with backchecking and more offensive output (she’ll be on the power play as well), but the coach said with injuries and depending on her play, she could split time between centre and the wing.
“I asked to be centre and my coach listened, but I won’t be staying there because an injured girl will be back soon,” she said. “I would rather be centre because I feel like I am stronger and more comfortable as a centre than a winger.”
“She had a pretty nice year asa rookie,” said coach Jean-Francois Leblond. “I think her play got better as the year went on and we expect a good season this year.”
The new position is a bit of a litmus test early, thanks to injury. In the upcoming Stoney Creek tournament this weekend, she’s in the position she wants and will be on the first power play unit. Meaning it’s all up to her and the things she learned as a rookie to be successful this year.
A total of 64 teams from all over North America will vie for the prize, players and coaches Dawson is not familiar with, but will help them get ready for the CEGEP season.
“She’s a really hard worker. I don’t know many players working as hard as she does,” said Leblond. “She’s got grit, nice offensive sense. I don’t know how she keeps the puck like she does, but she’s really good with the puck. She listens to her coach and does a great job on the ice.”
The pre-season wrapped up with back-to-back losses to Andre-Laurendeau, 3-2 August 24 and 4-1 August 30, with Morris getting more momentum coming into her second season.
“For two games at centre it’s really hard for a young player like her, but she did a great job,” said the coach, adding he “didn’t really look” at the score sheet, where Morris was pointless.
Leblond and the Blues are shooting for third or fourth place this season, with the possibility to wreak some havoc come playoff time.
Last year, Dawson beat Edouard Montpetit, a team that finished higher in the standings, and lost in the semi-finals to Limoilou, who won the title.
While lacing up for the Blues is fun, it also comes with more responsibility.
“Right now, I’m the only girl from Kahnawake who is playing college-level hockey,” said Morris. “I would like more girls from Kahnawake to go out of town and play higher levels. I’d like to see more girls playing and in the future.
“I’d love to help them in any way I can. I’ve already been an assistant coach for Team Eastern Door and the North and I would like to help other girls who live on other reserves to play higher levels as well.”
The Blues will play Rimouski back-to-back September 21 and 22, to start their regular season, but home fans will get a better chance to see Morris in action September 27 at home against Andre-Laurendeau at 8 p.m.
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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.