Final hockey season with St. FX for Alex Normore one to remember

An offensive catalyst that raised the level of play for those around her, Alex Normore of the St. Francis Xavier X-Women transformed the game in Atlantic University Sport (AUS) by a quantum leap. The 2014-15 season could best be described as her farewell tour with the X-Women, one last chance to appreciate her greatness and absorb what she meant to the growth of AUS hockey.

Once again, her talents brought her to the top of the CIS statistical charts. Ranking third in CIS play with 22 assists, while her 32 points tied for fifth in the nation with York Lions forward Lisa Stathopoulos, she would also log her 197th career point, surpassing Brayden Ferguson as the all-time leading scorer in program history. It also made her the second all-time leading scorer in AUS history, behind Marieve Provost, formerly of Les Aigles Bleues de Moncton.

Her final season would open with an eleven-game scoring streak that culminated in 18 points. During said streak, St. FX emerged with a 10-0-0 record, testament to Normore’s dominance. A three-point performance on November 1 against the St. Mary’s Huskies in a 6-1 victory would be her finest through those 11 games.

Another streak would begin on November 29, an eight-game stretch that would last until January 25. Once again, her prominence on the ice reflected in the wins column for the X-Women. Enjoying an undefeated mark during those eight games, Normore collected 17 points, along with a pair of superlative four-point performances.

Of note, the first occurred on December 18 against the St. Thomas Tommies, which saw Normore factor in every X-Women goal for a 4-2 victory. Exactly one week later, she would duplicate the feat as she gained assists on every X-Women goal in a hard-fought 4-3 road win against Mount Allison.

In the 21 out of 23 games played for the X-Women, Normore registered at least one point as her presence translated into a sterling won-loss mark of 20-1-0. The only loss took place on October 17 against UPEI. As a side note, the two games where she was held pointless involved a November 16 contest with Moncton and a January 28 meeting against St. Mary’s.

An even more revealing number is the fact that when Normore did not suit up for the X-Women, the squad went 1-5-0, compounded by a three-game losing streak to finish the season. That was attributed to the fact that she earned the call to compete for Canada’s national team in a silver medal effort at the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain.

The aftermath of the regular season saw Normore and the X-Women earn another trip to the CIS Nationals. Qualifying for the bronze medal game, emotions ran high. Competing against the Montreal Carabins (who claimed the silver medal at the 2014 edition of the Nationals), it would prove to be the final match in her remarkable career. With Carabins leader Elizabeth Mantha (who was one of Normore’s teammates at the Winter Universiade) also appearing in her final CIS game, both teams were eager to help their teammates end their careers with a podium finish.

Facing a 2-0 setback after two periods of play, Normore and Schyler Campbell earned the assist on a goal scored by Kara Power at 11:21 in the third. Although it would prove to be the only goal that Montreal would allow in the high-stakes contest, it was only fitting that Normore was able to register a point in her final game, representing a valiant effort.

Although the future of her playing career will be subject to venues such as Europe and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, what she has accomplished with the X-Women is the culmination of a sensational career that truly makes her a once-in-a-lifetime player. Her greatest legacy will be the fact that she brought an electricity to the ice, a newfound importance to AUS women’s ice hockey, bringing into the national championship picture. While the game at the AUS level will definitely not be the same without her presence, she helped develop a great foundation for future generations of Maritime competitors to emulate and build upon.

Simply the best: Kelly Campbell enjoys Golden Path trophy with Western Mustangs

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.

A jubilant Campbell celebrates after a 5-0 shutout win clinches the Golden Path Trophy for the Mustangs (Photo credit: Ted Rhodes)

A jubilant Campbell celebrates after a 5-0 shutout win clinches the Golden Path Trophy for the Mustangs (Photo credit: Ted Rhodes)

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.

Campbell (far left) was named to the 2015 CIS First-Team All-Stars. (Image obtained from: http://en.cis-sic.ca/championships/wice/2015/releases/awards)

Campbell (far left) was named to the 2015 CIS First-Team All-Stars. (Image obtained from: http://en.cis-sic.ca/championships/wice/2015/releases/awards)

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.