Anmore hockey player commits to Western University

Next year, the current top scorer in the BC Women’s Under-18 AAA League will compete at the highest level of university sport in Canada.

Leah Barnard is proving she has what it takes to play at the next level of hockey.

The Anmore product has already matched his points tally from last season in just half the time, scoring 14 goals and 36 points in just 13 games with the Fraser Valley Rush in the 2022-23 season so far.

As of this posting (November 5), she is the leading scorer in the BC Elite Hockey League (BCEHL) Women’s Under-18 AAA division, and that talent, along with her appearance at the national championships last spring, secured him a place at the highest level of collegiate sport in Canada.

Barnard recently announced his commitment to Western University in London, Ont., next fall – part of U Sports and the Association of Ontario Universities (OUA).

The 17-year-old forward joins teammate Gillian Lapierre as the second Tri-Cities hockey star to put pen to paper for a varsity women’s hockey team beginning in the 2023-24 campaign.

Lapierre will be further east in Halifax with the St. Mary’s University Huskies.

Barnard had four points in six games at the Esso Cup, which is the U18 AAA women’s national hockey championship.

This included three assists, including one in the gold medal game which would ultimately see Fraser Valley fall 4-1 to Durham West Lightning.

Barnard’s silver medal solidified a historic season as the Rush became the first BC team to reach both the final and playoff round of the tournament.

Prior to the Esso Cup, Barnard had five points in five playoff games that resulted in provincial and regional banners, as well as 36 points in 32 games in the 2021-22 regular season.

It was the third highest total among her Fraser Valley teammates last year.

Barnard is set to join a Western University hockey club looking to rebound from last year’s semifinal elimination.

The Mustangs were shut out 3-0 in the OUA West Division final against Brock University despite playing as the underdogs who finished ninth in the regular season with a 5-7 record -3.

Western has won two OUA conference championships, one as recently as 2018, and one national title in its history from 2015.

Barnard’s next time on the ice is scheduled for next weekend as the Fraser Valley Rush hosts a home-and-away with the Greater Vancouver Comets, November 12 and 13.

Catherine J. Martinez