Queen’s Gaels name new women’s hockey head coach 

Morgan McHaffie (centre) will assume the role of head coach for the Queen’s Gaels women’s hockey team starting this season, after previous head coach Matt Holmberg exited the role for a new position with Queen’s Athletics. Photo via Queen’s Gaels.

Morgan McHaffie has been named as the new head coach of the Queen’s Gaels women’s hockey team. On Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, the university’s Athletics and Recreation department announced the longtime assistant coach would be taking over the reins of the team after previous head coach Matt Holmberg left the position in April to become director of Service Strategy and External Relations for Queen’s Athletics.

“I am thrilled to have Morgan join Queen’s Athletics and Recreation as our new women’s hockey head coach,” said Linda Melnick, Executive Director of Queen’s Athletics and Recreation, in a press release.

“Her commitment to cultivate an environment that enables student-athletes to excel is paired with an approach that both draws from and builds on her own experience as a former Gael who competed for Queen’s at the highest levels. In the role of head coach, Morgan will broaden the scope of her coaching career and shape the next chapter of this storied program.”

As Melnick touched on, McHaffie is no stranger to Queen’s University and the school’s women’s hockey team. Before joining the Gaels as an assistant coach in 2015, McHaffie spent five seasons with the Tricolour as a centre, winning two Ontario University Athletics (OUA) provincial championships and a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national bronze medal. 

“I am absolutely thrilled and deeply honoured for the opportunity to take over the helm as head coach of this remarkable and historic program. Here at Queen’s, we have such a rich hockey history, and it’s been a tremendous privilege being a part of the program for 12 years, both as a player and as a coach,” said McHaffie.

“The foundation, culture and legacy that Matt Holmberg has cultivated over his tenure with the program has been truly extraordinary and I look forward to picking up and carrying the torch forward, striving to new heights of excellence both on and off the ice with our exceptional athletes.”

A valuable member of the Gaels team every time she laced up her skates, McHaffie earned a number of important distinctions throughout her career as a student-athlete. During the 2011-2012 season, she was named the Most Valuable Player in the OUA, finishing the season as the league’s top scorer. After being named an OUA All-Rookie during her debut season with the Gaels, McHaffie wen on to make the league’s All-Star team for four seasons in a row. 

In a playoff game on March 3, 2011, McHaffie played a key role in ending the longest collegiate hockey game in history, as she scored the game-winning goal in the sixth overtime against the Guelph Gryphons. The game lasted a total of 167 minutes and 14 seconds. 

Footage of McHaffie’s historic goal. Video via Matt Holmberg on X (formerly known as Twitter).

During the 2012-2013 season, McHaffie gained national recognition as a Second Team All-Canadian. That same season, she was also presented with the Outstanding Performance of the Year Award at the annual Queen’s University Athletics and Recreation Colour Awards, after the Gaels took home the 2013 OUA Women’s Hockey Championship. 

A prominent player in the OUA and CIS national ranks, McHaffie also represented Canada at two FISU Winter Universiades, an international multi-sport event for university athletes (FISU stands for Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire, or International University Sports Federation in English). At the 2013 Universiade in Trentino, Italy, McHaffie served as Canada’s assistant captain, with the team securing a gold medal following a 5-0 victory over Team Russia. Two years later in Granada, McHaffie and Team Canada took home the bronze medal. 

Aside from her time with the Gaels, McHaffie has amassed over 15 years of teaching and coaching experience at various levels of the game. Since 2012, she has served as a coach with the Kingston Ice Wolves (Greater Kingston Girls Hockey Association, or GKGHA), most recently as the assiatnt coach for the U18AA team. 

Coming into this season, McHaffie will be looking to return the team to its winning ways after the Gaels made an early first-round exit during the 2022 OUA playoffs. This year, the team will be hoping to return to the McCaw Cup OUA Championship game for the first time since 2018. 

The Queen’s Gaels women’s hockey team will see its first action of the year on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, with a pre-season clash against the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Reds in Lennoxville, Quebec. The Gaels will then open the OUA regular season on the road in Oshawa against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks on October 14, before their home opener on October 20 against the Waterloo Warriors at 7:30 p.m. at the Kingston Memorial Centre. 

For more information on the Queen’s Gaels women’s hockey team, visit their official website.

Queen’s Gaels women’s hockey Head Coach Morgan McHaffie, as she was announced to the position on the Gaels website on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. Image via Queen’s Gaels.

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