The University of Windsor is playing defence following allegations of mental and verbal abuse by one of the school’s varsity coaches.

The accusations involve Deanna Iwanicka, the head coach of the university women's hockey team and a source tells CTV News those accusations have resulted in an investigation by the university.

Five players from the school’s hockey team have stepped forward with complaints against Iwanicka. Former team member Krystin Lawrence is one of them.

“She told me I had to fix some things so I worked in practice all week to fix them and then I improved in the games but at the end of the day nothing was ever good enough for me,” Lawrence says of her time on the team. “I pretty much had enough. I couldn't deal with it. Then I got hurt so it was a blessing in disguise.”

Lawrence left the women's hockey team in October but attended games and stayed in touch with teammates. She claims another player also left a month later.

“Two staff quit. Two players quit,” she tells CTV News. “We're going into January, February, no one’s having fun. No one's enjoying the game anymore.”

Lawrence says two players, both seniors, were kicked off the team prior to their last two games.

“It kind of shows that it was going through the year, not just the beginning,” Lawrence says.

Retired university professor Marge Holman confirms she has talked to players who allege verbal and mental abuse from the head coach.

“Two athletes came in to see me and expressed their concerns with their experience with women's hockey,” Holman says, noting she’s refraining from taking sides on the issue. “I really feel they did have a legitimate concern that was worthy of sharing with the appropriate authorities.” 

“Coaches have a lot of power. Administration has a lot of power and a lot of that power comes from the perception that the athletes have no voice,” adds Holman. “We have to give them that voice. Have to get things out on the table. It only makes sport a better place for everybody,” Holman says.

Iwanicka just completed her first year with the Lancers after a 10-year stint at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. That’s where she earned coach of the year honours twice and guided the Oaks to three consecutive conference titles. 

In Windsor, however, the women’s hockey team managed only one victory in 23 games this season.

The university says it has appointed an outside investigator to look into matter and has no comment on the process because it is deemed confidential.

Lawrence and Holman both confirm they have been contacted by players from Alberta who played for Iwanicka and allege the same verbal and mental abuse.

CTV Windsor reached out to Iwanicka but has received no response from the head coach.