Having played with the CWHL?۪s Toronto Furies since their inaugural season in 2010-11, Lexie Hoffmeyer?۪s tenure brings a strong presence to the ice for the blue and white.
Being the only American on the team, the Grand Blanc, Mich., native acknowledges there was an adjustment period. ???Having been in my third season since I joined the Furies, it was a transition at the start,? Hoffmeyer said.
During the 2012-13 season, Hoffmeyer and her fellow Furies had the opportunity to play with four current Canada?۪s National Women?۪s Team members: Tessa Bonhomme (Sudbury, Ont.), Rebecca Johnston (Sudbury, Ont.), Natalie Spooner (Scarborough, Ont.) and Jennifer Wakefield (Pickering, Ont.).
Other Toronto teammates Sami Jo Small (Winnipeg, Man.) and Sommer West (Bowmanville, Ont.) also have past experience with the national team. Their commitment to the game and the resurgence of an exciting culture in the Furies locker room made an impression on Hoffmeyer.
???Having been on the team a couple of years now, I root for them,? she said. ???Seeing how hard they train, day in, day out, even though they are from a rival country.?
???Currently, I live in Toronto,? she added. ???As a dual citizen, it makes it a lot easier. My dad is from Saskatchewan.?
Growing up in Michigan, Hoffmeyer was part of several USA Hockey selection camps. The experience would provide her with great memories, as she would play alongside future CWHL superstars.
???They were select camps and I was really excited. I played out of Lake Placid, where the Miracle on Ice was played. Two of the girls I played with were Erika Lawler and Hilary Knight.?
Knight (San Francisco, Calif.) and Lawler (Fitchburg, Mass.) play for the CWHL?۪s Boston Blades, and claimed silver with the Americans at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.
???It was a great experience, and humbling,? Hoffmeyer said of playing alongside the best in the female game. ???Where you come from, you are a big fish in a small pond. The (selection) camp tells you how big it really is.?
One unique connection she cherishes on the Furies is with current teammate Meagan Aarts (Watford, Ont.). Both players competed for the University of Maine Black Bears, and it has led to a great friendship. Of note, Aarts would graduate as the Black Bears all-time leading scorer.
???There was an overlap,? Hoffmeyer said. ???She was there before I was. Her time there was before my time, but we both have a mutual understanding coming from Maine.?
Although Hoffmeyer began her career with the Mercyhurst University Lakers, which has produced CWHL stars such as Meghan Agosta (Ruthven, Ont.), Bailey Bram (Ste. Anne, Man.) and Vicki Bendus (Wasaga Beach, Ont.), there was a sense of irony in her inaugural collegiate game.
???I started playing at Mercyhurst College and scored a goal on my first shift in my first NCAA game. The game was played at Maine?۪s Alfond Arena (where I would later play). On a personal level, it was exciting to score on my first shift. My attitude in college was to keep my grades up and work hard.?
Those values have translated to a strong career in the CWHL, where Hoffmeyer is one of the Furies?۪ veteran leaders. With her third season under wraps, she reflects on her 2012-13 season with tremendous pride.
???It was really exciting, especially this year with the support from the Maple Leafs and the Flames,? Hoffmeyer said. ???They are great initiatives, and we are starting to see the hard work pay off. To see how far it has come and how far we can go, we still have dues to pay.?
During the 2012-13 campaign, there were two games that stood out for Hoffmeyer. The first was during the final game of the Clarkson Cup round robin, as the Furies prevailed with an intense 4-3 overtime win against rival the Brampton Thunder.
???Being a cross-town rivalry, the frustration definitely built up,? she said, adding it ???was about the pride factor.?
???It was really exciting to be a part of it. We won in the end in a dramatic way, (which was) just great to see.?
The other game that defined her sensational season was one that had a great impact on every one of her teammates. The opportunity to compete against the Alberta Hockey Club in the Air Canada Centre last November, in what was the first CWHL game ever contested on NHL ice. It was a match-up that made some magnificent memories for Hoffmeyer.
???Playing at the Air Canada Centre was just a great experience,? she recalled. ???It definitely spoke to the growth of the league. Being on the ice for a goal that was scored by Toronto was great. I had an assist and hearing my name announced at the ACC was great. To see the fans and girls there, it reminded me of how I love this game.?