A pair of back-to-back shutouts at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport nationals would prove to be the coming out party for Western Mustangs goaltender Kelly Campbell. Leading the program (known traditionally for its dominance in men’s football) to its first-ever Canadian Interuniversity Sport national title in women’s ice hockey, Campbell joins the likes of former Mustangs rugby player Barbara Mervin as female sporting heroes in Western lore.
Adding to her sterling hockey legacy is the fact that said shutouts came against the top ranked teams in CIS play, the Montreal Carabins and the McGill Martlets. While the opportunity to stifle the Carabins in the semi-finals (by a 2-0 score) was a significant accomplishment, her 38 save performance in a 5-0 blanking of the Martlets was quite possibly the biggest upset in CIS national championship history.
Despite a first period against the Martlets that saw the Mustangs outshot by a 17-4 margin, Campbell was nothing short of solid between the pipes. Her performance allowed the Mustangs confidence to believe that a win was possible. By the final buzzer, a 5-0 final cemented Campbell’s legacy as the finest goalie to suit up for the program. Overall, it was part of a superb body of work in the playoffs that consisted of 93 saves and only one goal allowed three games. As a side note, the one goal was allowed in a 3-1 win against Les Aigles Bleues de Moncton.
Based in London, Ontario, the Mustangs presence in Southwestern Ontario makes it one of the most impressive regions for university hockey in Canada. The region boasts the likes of traditional powerhouse Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (where NCAA alum Laura McIntosh serves as a coach), the Waterloo Warriors (featuring elite goalie Rebecca Bouwhuis), the Guelph Gryphons (where Amanda Parkins stars) and the Windsor Lancers right down Highway 401.
The ability for the Mustangs to emerge as OUA champions (and eventual CIS champions) against such talent is testament to the quality of their players and coaching. Of note, no goaltender may be of such elite quality as Campbell, whose numbers placed her in the CIS Top 10 in seven different goaltending categories.
Campbell’s championship season would open with a 4-3 win against rival Waterloo on October 11. One week later, she would begin a nine-game win streak, which would snapped in a hard-fought loss against Queen’s University on November 30. During the streak, Campebll’s finest performance was a 48-save effort on November 1 against rival Laurier.
Ending the regular season with a 3-0 shutout against UOIT, Campbell’s stats reveal her true value to the Mustangs. A deeper look indicates that when registering at least 20 saves in a game, Campbell’s efforts resulted in a 12-3-0 mark. In games where she allowed one goal or less, the Mustangs registered 13 wins compared to only two losses.
In the aftermath of a remarkable run to the national title, Campbell was honored as the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, complemented by CIS Female Athlete of the Week Honors and CIS First-Team All-Canadian honors. If the CIS had a goaltender of the year award, there is no question that honor would have also gone to Campbell.