Lowy and Lamenta lead the way in emotional triumph for Guelph Gryphons at USPORTS Hockey Nationals

One of the premier programs in USPORTS women’s ice hockey, the Guelph Gryphons were a constant presence at the national championship tournament. Boasting some of the nation’s finest on-ice talent, led by elite head coach Rachel Flanagan, their McCaw Cup victories in the Ontario University Athletics Conference were not matched by the Golden Path title, awarded to the national champions.

In their search for an elusive championship, a pair of program luminaries provided a heroic effort that supplied a fitting finish to their fine careers, simultaneously allowing Flanagan, who has served as bench boss for the last 12 seasons, the long-awaited of adding a title to her peerless coaching resume.

Challenging the dynastic McGill Martlets in the gold medal game, any victory would not only be hard-earned, it would only cement their standing as national champions. Undoubtedly, the Martlets provided a significant obstacle, as First-Team All-Canadian goaltender Tricia Deguire constantly frustrated the Gryphons offense.

Replying in the opposing net was a highly motivated Valérie Lamenta. Raised in the province of Québec, Lamenta’s goaltending proficiency in her youth should have made her destined to stand between the pipes for one of Montreal’s Big Three universities (Concordia, McGill, Montreal Carabins). Instead, Lamenta was forced to tend her craft in the neighboring province of Ontario, emerging as one of the greatest recruits in Gryphons history.

Fittingly, the 2019 Nationals served as her finest hour, enjoying an element of redemption as she shut out Les Carabins de Montréal in the semi-finals, while keeping the Martlets off the scoresheet in the title game.

Long-time teammate, and current captain, Kaitlin Lowy would supply the other half of the heroics, scoring with 1:45 left in the second period for the game’s only goal. Such a goal, which saw Claire Merrick soar through the neutral zone to feed Lowy the puck, proved to be the salve that the Gryphons required, after the Martlets denied them in two power play opportunities earlier in the period.

A multiple OUA All-Star selection, and competitor for Team Canada in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade, said goal stood as the last of Lowy’s brilliant five-year career. Ending her career, along with Lamenta, who is also in her fifth year, in storybook fashion.

Adding lustre to the prestige of the championship-clinching goal was the fact that Lowy was recognized as the Player of the Game for Guelph, while Shana Walker gained the honors as McGill’s Player of the Game. In addition, three Gryphons gained a spot on the Tournament All-Star, featuring Lamenta, Claire Merrick and Mallory Young.

Although it was McGill’s Jade Downie-Landry who captured Tournament MVP honors, Lowy enjoyed another unique privilege. With her jersey given to Scott McRoberts, the athletic director for Guelph, said jersey shall be submitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto for posterity.

In the bronze medal game, Les Carabins de Montréal bested the number-one seeded Alberta Pandas by a 2-1 tally. With a 2-0 lead in the third period, Alex Poznikoff, who captured the Broderick Trophy as USPORTS Player of the Year, trimmed the lead of Les Carabins. providing fifth-year player and team captain Valérie St-Onge with a prized podium finish. Aube Racine captured the Carabins honors as Player of the Game, while Danielle Hardy gained the nod for the Pandas.

Jordanna Peroff the perfect acquisition for the Montreal Stars

As the Montreal Stars look to capture their first Clarkson Cup since 2012, a former star player with the McGill Martlets may be the final piece of the puzzle. With 12 players from the 2014-15 Stars roster not returning, Peroff brings two very valuable elements to the club.

In addition to having already won a Clarkson Cup championship (with the Toronto Furies in 2014), Peroff enjoyed a stellar university career with Montreal’s McGill Martlets. In five sensational seasons with the Martlets, Peroff participated in five Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournaments.

Although Peroff did not find her scoring stride with the Furies (traditionally, they have always been an offensively starved team, her positive attitude did not wane. Known as a social butterfly, Peroff tends to be a popular player and teammate wherever she plays.

Raised north of Toronto in Keswick, Ontario, a municipality in York Region, Peroff was part of several key events in Furies franchise history. Of note, she played with the club at Air Canada Centre in November 2013, which was the first CWHL regular season game played in an NHL arena.

In addition, she would help the club capture its first-ever Clarkson Cup, an emotional 1-0 overtime win against the Boston Blades. Adding to Peroff’s jubilation was the fact that the victory came in Markham, Ontario, also part of York Region, making the win feel like it was literally in her own back yard.

Making her CWHL debut on October 20, 2012, it resulted in a winning start as the Furies prevailed by a 4-3 tally against Brampton. Appearing in 20 games, she only logged two penalty minutes, showing strong discipline.

In the opening match of her second season (2013-14), a November 9 contest against the Calgary Inferno, Peroff logged her first career goal. Of note, it was a memorable goal providing her with a special milestone. Peroff would log the game-winning tally as the Furies prevailed by a 3-2 count against the visiting Inferno.

By season’s end, she would log assists in a pair of losses to Montreal (February 15) and Brampton (March 9). Ironically, the loss against Brampton represented the only game all season in which Peroff had a positive plus/minus rating (+2).

With only six penalty minutes in more than 40 career games played at the CWHL level, her remarkable discipline reflects a great style of play that should enable her the chance to make an impact with the Stars.
With the blue and white, Peroff’s role occupied more of a forechecking capacity, proving that preventing goals comprises a key role. Paying attention to such details is just as important as a teammate that may have scored a goal on the opposite end of the ice.

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Competing with the Stars, it is highly likely that Peroff shall establish new bench marks for most goals and points in one season during her CWHL career. Reunited with the likes of Martlet teammates such as Ann-Sophie Bettez (a BLG Award winner), former captain Cathy Chartrand, 2015 second round pick Katia Clement-Heydra and All-World goaltender Charline Labonte, there are strong feelings of familiarity and pride on this year’s edition of the Stars.

In Montreal hockey circles, it had only been one year earlier (2011), when Peroff solidified her legacy. Leading the Martlets to a victory over the highly talented St. Francis Xavier X-Women in the 2011 CIS national title game, Peroff assembled a solid two-point performance that set the tone for the remainder of the game. For her efforts, she was recognized as tournament MVP, a remarkable milestone in her fabled career.

Graduating with 139 career points with the Martlets, Peroff was also an alternate captain for three seasons. Her leadership followed later in her career. Having also dressed the shirt of Macedonian Suns in the Canadian Multicultural Hockey League, she acquired the 2013 MVP award.

Although Peroff was not part of CWHL play during the 2014-15, she was equally prominent. Competing with the Italian club, the Bolzano Eagles, she participated in Group G of the Euorpean Women’s Champions Cup. Playing alongside Chelsea Furlani during the season, Peroff logged a pair of assists in a 7-3 final on December 6 against the Espoo Blues.

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During the 2014-15 EWHL season, Peroff was one of seven Canadians competing in the league. She was joined by the likes of Alex Gowie (KHM Budapest), blueliner Regan Boulton (EHV Sabres Vienna) and Abygail Laking (DEC Salzburg Eagles). Of note, the Neuberg Highlanders featured the most Canadians of any European roster. Consisting of three players, including scoring champion Devon Skeats, forwards Shelby Ballendine and Paula Lagamba completed the Canadian trio.

With a very strong roster this season, Peroff may likely be a third line player with the Stars, but her talents give her the potential to be remarkably effective, giving the Stars solid depth. Possessing an impressive skill set, she also has the ability to occasionally shift to a second or first line, showing versatility. Possessing championship experience, Peroff not only knows what it takes to win a Clarkson Cup, her positive attitude and team first approach make her an ideal teammate.

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.