Nicole Gosling has more on her plate than your typical 17-year-old.

Like most of her classmates at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School, she’s wrapping up her final year of high school with her sights set on the future, and it’s a bright future at that.

She is all set to head to Clarkson University in the fall to play for the school’s prestigious women’s hockey program.

On top of that, she’s also the captain of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League’s (PWHL) London Junior Devilettes and has represented her country alongside some of its best hockey players in her age group.

She represented Canada at the 2020 IIHF under-18 women’s world championship in Slovakia, where the team brought home a silver medal. Despite a disappointing loss to their American rivals in the gold medal game, Gosling says it was an experience she will never forget.

“Just being in that team environment was unreal,” she said. “It obviously wasn’t the outcome we wanted because we won gold the year before, but it was still so much fun. Just being able to experience something like that is unbelievable, and something I’m going to cherish forever and have those lifelong memories.”

Back home, it’s been a much different season for the Junior Devilettes following their PWHL championship last year. She’s just one of four players returning from that team, with 13 players having moved on.

Gosling says it’s certainly a younger team than they had last year, which has given her an opportunity to grow as a leader.

“It takes some time to get used to the speed and the different style of hockey in junior. As a team, I don’t think we are quite at the spot we want to be yet but we are definitely getting there. There’s only four of us back from last year’s team, so we just do what we can to make sure everyone is comfortable out there,” said Gosling, who played her rookie season with the Devilettes at the young age of 14.

“I was playing at this level at such a young age and I’m so grateful I got that opportunity. I’ve learned so much throughout the years, just playing with different people. They’ve taught me so many things that I probably wouldn’t have experienced if I didn’t have this opportunity.”

As a rookie, Gosling already had her sights set on the future, committing to the very well respected program at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., while only being a freshman in high school. The Clarkson program won back-to-back national championships in 2017 and 2018.

“I can’t wait to go there and just be ready to play at the university level. I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time,” she said.

At the end of last season, Gosling watched 13 of her teammates graduate, with many moving on to collegiate programs in Canada and the U.S. Her cousin Julia Gosling moved on to St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., a team in the same conference as Clarkson, and the campuses are only about a 10-minute drive apart.

Gosling patrols the blue line for the Devilettes, and may be one of the PWHL’s top defencemen, but she originally wanted to be a goalie. She says her favourite player growing up was goaltender Shannon Szabados, but like many young girls playing hockey, she also grew to adore Hailey Wickenheiser, and points to her as one of her biggest motivators as a young hockey player.

She says it’s a very exciting time for women’s hockey.

“You look at the Canada and U.S. rivalry series, the support was incredible, you saw some of the attendance at those games, like 4,000 people. It’s just really exciting to see where women’s hockey is going.”

With five games left in the season, the Devilettes have a 14-14-3-2 regular-season record and currently sit 12th in the PWHL standings.

They’ll spend the weekend on an eastern road trip with games in Kingston, Ottawa and Nepean.

The team will wrap up the season with home games on Feb. 21 and 22 against Whitby and Cambridge.

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