Ailish Forfar is no stranger to college hockey.
After spending four years with the NCAA’s Dartmouth College Big Green, Forfar has returned home to Canada, where she’ll play with the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team this season. While she’s only been playing at Ryerson for a few weeks, Forfar has already noticed some differences between NCAA and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) hockey.
“I feel like I’ve had the opportunity to have the puck on my stick a little more than I used to,” said Forfar. “It’s been a change for me to have a little more time – and I think that’s how the CIS seems to be. You have a little bit more time to play a good possession game, which is something I’m hoping to utilize.”
The 22-year-old forward showed off her offensive capabilities on Saturday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, scoring the Rams only regulation time goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Provincial Women’s Hockey League’s Whitby Jr. Wolves. Despite the exhibition game being decided in overtime, a shootout was held afterwards, where Forfar scored on a slick deke to her forehand.
Forfar was used in all situations on Saturday, seeing time on the team’s power play and penalty kill units.
“My goal is to be a reliable player in every situation, someone that you can throw over the boards and I’ll hopefully know what I’m doing,” she said.
Although Forfar spent four years at Dartmouth – graduating this year with a double major in English and geography – she played only three seasons with the Big Green, missing her sophomore campaign due to an injury. She recorded 19 goals and 37 points in 85 career NCAA games.
The addition of Forfar could be a big boost for the Ryerson women’s team, which scored an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) low, 30 goals in 24 conference games last season.
“I think everybody in the rink sees her being in an offensive role,” said Rams head coach Lisa Haley. “I think she’s got a ton of experience being in that type of situation and we brought her here both because she’s a seasoned university level player and also because we need to improve offensively. Absolutely you’ll notice her name on the scoreboard quite a bit.”
Forfar’s addition had a lot to do with Rams assistant coach Ken Dufton, said Haley. Dufton coached Forfar when she was a member of the Toronto Aeros program.
“When she found out he was here at Ryerson as part of our program, as well as the opportunity to study sport media, it seemed like it was going to be a natural fit, “ said Haley.
The CIS has loosened its women’s hockey transfer rules in recent years. Previously, if a player like Forfar wanted to transfer from Dartmouth to Ryerson, she would have to sit out a year. With that rule no longer in place, and with the OUA’s current level of play, more players are returning home to Canada, said Haley.
Forfar has two years of college hockey eligibility remaining. She expects to see more Canadian women’s hockey players returning home to compete in the CIS.
“I think it’ll be something that continues,” she said. “Honestly, why not? If you love the game this much, any opportunity you have to play is definitely worthwhile, especially if you are continuing your education.”