As her senior season as a Canton Golden Bear draws to a close, Senior Sydnee Francis knows that the end of her high school campaign does not mark the end of her hockey career. Francis has committed to play for the storied SUNY Plattsburgh women’s hockey team.

Francis, who also plays for the Nepean Jr. Wildcats in Nepean, ON, has been intent on joining the Plattsburgh Cardinals program since August, but found out just before the holidays that she was admitted to the school’s nursing program. After securing that admission, her choice was simple, she said. 

“I was kind of just waiting to find my best fit. Other than hockey, I wanted to go to a school with a nursing program,” Francis said. “That was my biggest thing is after my four years of hockey I wanted to have something that I could fall back on” 

SUNY Plattsburgh women’s hockey has made quite a name for itself, especially recently. The program boasts 13 NCAA Frozen Four appearances, to include seven NCAA National Championship title wins. Of those seven wins, five have some since 2014, and the team is poised for another run this season. The team currently is ranked fourth in the nation, and has a record of 18-2. 

“It’s a really strong program, and it’s been a strong program for many years,” Francis noted. “When I got there the atmosphere was all about women’s hockey. When you went on campus, going to the girls’ games was a really big thing and I think that would be a really cool thing to experience.”

On top of the winning pedigree of the program, the style of play is also attractive to the senior forward. Francis’ speed and tenacity will be on full display in the run-and-gun system of Plattsburgh Coach Kevin Houle. 

“The coach was great. He has my mentality for hockey; full throttle, hard forecheck,” Francis said. “When I watched their game they just went 100 percent, 24/7 which was good to see and was something I wanted to be a part of.”

While the opportunity to play hockey with a successful program certainly played into Francis’ decision to join the Cardinals, it was far from the only factor. Its proximity to Canton, campus size, and recommendations from former teammates all moved the needle as well, but Francis’ main concern was an academic one. SUNY Plattsburgh’s nursing program was the best fit for her career plans, she said.

“I have always wanted to go into the medical field,” Francis explained. “I think when I had my knee injury, the whole process of physical therapy and nursing and surgery really gave me the idea of going into the field. I go to BOCES right now for the New Visions program, which is the nursing program at BOCES.”

Being so close to home will allow Francis’ biggest supporters, her parents, to continue to watch her play the sport she loves. The senior forward credits her mom and dad, Anita, who is also her head coach at Canton, and Scott Francis, with helping bring this dream to reality. 

Sydnee Francis (third from right) celebrates senior night with her parents, Anita and Scott Francis (to her right), and fellow senior Grace Southwick, and her parents.

“My parents have been great with driving me to Canada which is not an easy thing to do all the time, and they were willing to let me go and live up there last year. They have been unbelievably supportive,” Francis said. “Every decision I wanted to make, they were always ready to go and let me do what I needed to do.”

And while her parents led the way in cheering her on, Francis said she’s always felt the encouragement of the greater Canton community in her journey to collegiate athletics. 

“People have been supportive my whole life,” she said. “Hockey was always my thing and everyone was rooting me on and cheering for me to do what I wanted to do and no one had any doubts I would find somewhere I wanted to go.”

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