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Lady Ducks alum Reyes reaches NCAA milestone with Saints

 

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As much as Justine Reyes tries to pass on attention, it still finds her.

And speaking of passes, the St. Lawrence senior had one on Jan. 12 that found its target and then was deposited in the back of the net.

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That’s nothing new in Reyes’ college career, but her assist on Nadine Edney’s power-play goal gave the longtime Anaheim Lady Ducks standout 100 points in her Division I career. In the process, the Chino Hills native became just the 29th player in the Saints program’s history to reach that milestone.

“It was a really cool moment,” said Reyes. “I don’t think you can picture how something like college hockey will play out before you start. I’ve always wanted to play my best and have fun in the process, and I feel I’ve accomplished both of those things.”

Justine-ReyesReyes, who received the puck after a teammate fished it out of the opposing net, has consistently provided offense for the Saints, and the century mark in points was further validation of that.

“’Rey’ is very consistent, and her game has gotten better every year,” Saints coach Chris Wells said.

As a freshman, she tied for the team lead with 12 goals. As a sophomore, she was fourth on the team with 23 points. She tied for the team lead last season with 40 points, and through the end of January, was tops on the team with 20 points.

As impressive as the offense is, consider this – Reyes has never missed a game in her college career. Through Jan. 26, she was at 135 consecutive games and counting – a remarkable run of durability and toughness.

“She had some adjustments to the speed of college hockey,” Wells said. “She had to make improvements to her strength and speed, and she has.”

Reyes has accomplished this while making incremental improvements to her game.

“I’m much more of a complete player,” Reyes said. “Let’s just say I came in lacking on the defensive end. We’ve had the same staff the entire time I’ve been here, so I’ve been lucky in that regard.”

That struggle is a common one, her coach noted.

“A lot of kids you rely on for points aren’t overly in tune with what to do defensively when they get to college,” Wells said. “If they don’t tighten up, they won’t find those offensive opportunities.”

Wells said Reyes’ skill set is complementary off the ice as well as on it.

“She’s very quiet, very kind,” he said. “She’s always one to help her teammates, and she always has a smile on her face.

“We have a really good group in our locker room, and Rey has a certain way about her that adds to that.”

Reyes came to St. Lawrence having twice been a captain for the Lady Ducks and an assistant a third season. She values the preparation she received in Anaheim.

Kathy (McGarrigle) and Caroline (Marchant) are so dedicated to helping everyone in the program move on to whatever level is appropriate,” Reyes said. “My teammates really helped me out, as did every coach I had.”

Reyes said she’s also grateful to have former Lady Ducks teammates Kayla Nielsen and Lydia Grauer play with her in college as well. But they weren’t a package deal.

“Each was recruited separately,” Wells said. “We’re fortunate Caroline Marchant was so aggressive in getting them exposure through tournaments in the East. Those trips helped all three.”

A psychology major, Reyes was selected to the ECAC Hockey All-Academic team last season. The options in front of her are plentiful and include, in no particular order, graduate school and continuing to play hockey.

“(Continuing in hockey) is the goal, but I’m playing it by ear right now,” she said.

And why wouldn’t she? She has two more months to add to her growing legacy in college hockey.

Photo/C A Hill Photo

— Chris Bayee

(Feb. 27, 2019)