UND WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Williams brings toughness element
Tori Williams grew up six hours north of Winnipeg in The Pas, Man., playing boys hockey until her sophomore year of high school. Then, reluctantly, she adjusted to new rules of girls hockey, which meant no more checking. "I miss the checking," sh...
Tori Williams grew up six hours north of Winnipeg in The Pas, Man., playing boys hockey until her sophomore year of high school.
Then, reluctantly, she adjusted to new rules of girls hockey, which meant no more checking.
"I miss the checking," she said.
Indeed, strength and toughness is not a problem for the freshman UND women's hockey player. Williams has quickly adjusted from the pace of prep hockey in Manitoba to life as a defenseman who routinely matches up against the world's best players in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
Williams has played in 28 of 31 games for the Sioux this season and has had an increased role since a season-ending injury to Jordan Slavin. She has a goal, four assists and has registered 24 penalty minutes.
"Tori has come in and played a lot more minutes than we would have expected prior (to the season)," UND coach Brian Idalski said. "She's physically pretty strong already. She competes. A redshirt year might have helped her hands and moving the puck, but she's a kid we ask to kill penalties, she's solid five-on-five and she does her role very well. . . and she's done it well from the go. She's had a very good freshman year and has exceeded our expectations, for sure."
Williams started playing hockey at a young age. Hockey is the popular sport in The Pas, and her father, Tim, was drafted No. 66 overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1976. Tori's brother, Cole, also plays.
The family lived on Clearwater Lake, just north of The Pas and would skate every winter.
"I loved it," Williams said of her hometown. "I love ice fishing in the winter and boating in the summer. It was awesome."
She left The Pas as a sophomore to further her hockey career at Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg. UND saw her playing in a tournament, where she was named the best defenseman.
"She was just a gritty, physical, tough kid that competed very hard," Idalski said. "We kept her on our radar. At the end of the year, we were looking for more depth on the blue line and Tori was someone who was still available and weighing options."
Williams said it was an easy decision to come to UND.
"I always wanted to go to the highest level possible," Williams said. "For me, that is UND. I'm really happy with where I am right now."
Williams will be a key player for No. 5 UND, which will take on No. 2 Minnesota on the road this weekend (6:07 tonight, 4:07 p.m. Saturday). Williams has been playing with senior Ashley Holmes for most of the stretch run.
"I really didn't know what to expect coming in," Williams said. "I just wanted to come in and play my hardest and hopefully fall into the lineup. The coaches have helped me a lot individually. We have amazing coaches and they really help me to stay in the lineup. I'm really happy with where I'm at and I'm going to try to continue to improve."
And Williams says she hopes that leads to more team success.
"We're the highest we've ever been," she said. "We're in a good place. I'm really excited about the rivalry this weekend. The team will be pumped up and ready to go."
Reach Schlossman at (701) 780-1129; (800) 477-6572, ext. 129; or send e-mail to email@example.com .