Blessed with ultra speed, Danielle Butler is expected to make the University of Windsor Lancers a contender in CIS Ontario University Athletics (OUA) women’s hockey this season.
Butler, a 5-foot-3 dynamo, rang up 14 gold and 25 points with the Thompson Okanagan Midget Rockets last season. The Kelowna-based team placed third in the B.C. Major Midget League, upset runner-up Prince George and then bowed to the Fraser Valley Phantom in the finals.
“Danielle is simply a superb athlete who skates incredibly well,” said Windsor head coach Jim Hunter. “She is fast and has the ability to make an immediate impact in the OUA.”
Butler, who turned 18 in May, has spent summer working out at Goodlife Fitness and making money at the Tolko mill. She is one of seven new recruits, including goalie Reggin Eraut, of Penticton’s Okanagan Hockey Academy.
Larrissa Borowiec, Rachel Chantler, Zoe Ellis, and Windsor products Shailyn Waites and Krystin Lawrence are the other freshman.
“These athletes are going to make us more athletic moving forward,” said Hunter. “The depth and competitiveness of this team just went up.”
Lawrence, who has a heavy shot, will also be pulling double-duty with the Lancer women’s soccer team as a goaltender.
“The team is quite excited about these incoming athletes, and we believe they will keep this team moving in the right direction for 2014-15 and beyond,” added Hunter.
Butler, whose mother, Susan, attended school in Sudbury, has relatives in Windsor.
“My aunt and uncle live there and my uncle, Bill Seagris, went to the university for seven years, playing on the hockey and golf team. He loved it there.”
A big fan of Patrice Bergeron and the Boston Bruins, Butler got Rockets’ assistant coach Dani Ayearst helped put her skills on display for colleges.
“She played at Mercyhurst (Lakers in Pennsylvania) and helped us make hockey bios to send off to schools,” said Butler, whose father, Les, was a journeymen rec player in his day. “They (Windsor) liked what they saw and contacted me. I also sent bios to two schools in Alberta and a few in Ontario.”
Butler will go anywhere, anytime, to chase pucks. In the summer of 2013, she joined a team from Cape Cod as a pick-up player in the Beantown Summer Classic in Marlboro, MA.
After a few years of outskating most boys in Pee Wee and Bantam House hockey, Butler suited up with the Female Midget A Salmon Arm Silvertips for the 2012-13 year. She was an alternate captain with the undefeated Tips.
She graduated from Seaton with a Double Dogwood Diploma (English and French) and made the Principals’ List and Honour Roll of Excellence a few times.
She plays forward and prefers centre.
“I’m pretty good at digging for the puck in the corner and finding spots in front of the net and making plays.”
Butler is getting a decent scholarship for a Canadian team and has talked to the Lancer coaches about philosophy.
“They are all about fair play. You have to earn your ice time no matter who you are.”
Camp opens Aug. 31 and Butler is ready for the one-on-one battles after adding five or six pounds of muscle in the gym. She will study human kinetics.
Looking back at her career, Butler says this is what she envisioned.
“I definitely wanted to play somewhere post-secondary.”
She patrolled the midfield in House soccer last spring and also enjoys basketball, downhill skiing and tennis.
The Lancers, who placed fifth, at 14-8-2 in the 13-team OUA last year, open Friday, Oct. 10 when they host the Waterloo Warriors. The defending OUA champion Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks are in Windsor the next day.
The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs with the quarterfinal, best-of-three series going Feb. 18, followed by two semifinal series beginning Feb. 25.