By Devan Mighton – Originally published in the Lakeshore News on May 11, 2017
Image: From left, Ameen, Muna, Surria, and Ramsey Fadel have a family moment with the championship trophy in the Arrington Ice Arena lobby in Adrian, Mich. on Mar. 18, 2017. Photo couresty of Hamza Fadel.
(BELLE RIVER, ON) – On Mar. 18, Belle River’s Muna Fadel became a two-time NCAA Division III hockey champion.
A sophomore student in the biology program at Plattsburgh State College, two years ago, Fadel chose the NCAA route over USports schools like the University of Windsor and York University.
“The last two years of my life have been quite the experience,” said Fadel. “Moving 10 hours away from home to a new city and new people was both stressful and exciting, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.”
This season, Fadel’s Plattsburgh State Cardinals carried a record of 28 wins, a loss, and a tie, en route to their fourth consecutive national title, the most ever in NCAA women’s hockey and the second most ever in the NCAA hockey history.
Playing at home, the Cardinals forced overtime late in their final against the Adrian Bulldogs, winning in the extra frame.
“It is an indescribable feeling being a repeat NCAA champion,” said Fadel.
For her, this has been a lifelong ambition.
“It has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl to one day play in the NCAA and win a national championship, and knowing that I have been fortunate enough to walk away with two of those is almost hard to believe at times. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to play on such a successful team and I will never forget those championship days.”
She has found her life as a student-athlete rewarding.
“Playing hockey while being a full-time student was a lot to handle at times but definitely worth it,” said Fadel.
A graduate of Tecumseh Vista Academy, she both played varsity hockey and was a part of their track team. The 19-year-old spent time prepping for college hockey with the Tecumseh Vista Vortex and Belle River Nobles in high school, while also working her way up through the Belle River and Sun Parlour minor hockey systems, eventually landing two seasons with the Southwest Jr. Wildcats of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League.
While with the Wildcats, the Fadel played at the highest level of women’s junior hockey in Ontario against frequent Canadian national team player-producers like the Toronto Jr. Aeros and the Mississauga Jr. Chiefs.
One of her coaches while with Southwest was NCAA Division I and Wildcats alum Jennifer Hitchcock.
“Muna is a very hard working player,” stated Hitchcock. “When she played for the Wildcats, she was determined to fine tune her game to ensure she could get to the next level and be successful.
“I never had any doubt she would be able to find success in university. She is a driven student and a very passionate athlete. She always plays with pride and passion for the game and those are qualities the Plattsburgh State coaches were looking for when they were recruiting Muna. They have created a winning culture there and Muna fit right in from the second she joined their program.”
“I have been fortunate to play the game I love ever since a young age,” said Fadel. “I am very thankful for all the organizations and teams I have been a part of previously to my jump to the NCAA … [they] have shaped me into the player I am today.”
For now, Fadel is reveling in the euphoria of her second NCAA title. There were a few speed bumps along the way to this year’s championship and it made for a sea of memories.
“It was a battle all year having a few close games and an unexpected loss early in the season,” reflected the Cardinals’ forward. “The team had to face a lot of adversity. Making it to the final four and having to fly far from school to Adrian, Mich. already made everything that much more exciting.
“We knew it was going to be an intense game playing in the national championship game against the hosting [Adrian Bulldogs], which we have played and beaten already twice earlier in the season.”
But the win was not a sure thing. The Cardinals trailed 3-2 into the dying seconds, shorthanded and with the goalie out.
“We were down by a goal with 20.7 seconds left until our senior captain [Julie Duquette] tied the game bringing it to overtime.”
The two team battled into the extra frame when 10:34 in, Plattsburgh State’s Erin Brand clinched the national title with a power play marker.
“This year’s championship run was pretty crazy, to say the least,” exclaimed Fadel.
You cannot win championships without relying on your friends. Fadel gives credit to many people for her development as a student and an athlete.
“I would definitely like to thank every single coach and teammate I have ever had during my years of playing hockey,” she explained.
“Being able to be a part of a team is something that I am very grateful for because it has led me to meeting some of the most important people in my life and is a huge factor in how I have been shaped as a person.”
Fadel credits Jim Quigley with helping set the foundation of her game.
“I went to all his hockey camps and sessions ever since I was a little girl,” she explained. “I am very lucky and thankful to him for teaching me the very basics and pushing me to be the best. He has definitely been a big impact on my hockey career so I thank him for that.”
But her biggest supporters were at home.
“Most importantly, my biggest thank you, of course, goes out to my mom and my dad [Ramsey and Surria Fadel],” she said. “I can never thank them enough for everything they have done for me and for all the support they have provided. They have put money, time and effort into my love for the game since the day I started. My dad has always been my biggest role model and inspiration for the game and he is always trying to make me a better player and person. I am very thankful to have such supportive parents that have pushed me to be successful.”
As Fadel finishes up her sophomore year of college, she offers some advice to young girls interested in the game she loves.
“It is extremely important to work as hard as you can, whenever you can, and to never give up,” she said. “Along the road, you will face many obstacles and hardships but your hard work will always be recognized and paid off in the end. However, at the end of the day, the number one most important thing is to have fun. As long as you’re working hard, and having fun doing it, then that’s all that matters.”