Thursday, 16 April 2015

CWHL influence part of coaching staff for rebuilding Carleton Ravens

In the aftermath of a string of difficult seasons, the Carleton Ravens are rebuilding their program with a glorious future in mind. With one season under their belt, three CWHL alumnae (Pierre Alain, Jody Katz, Lyne Landry) are helping to pave the way. While the Ravens compete in the RSEQ conference, one of the toughest in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, which features nationally prominent programs such as McGill, Montreal and Ottawa, the alumnae comprise the new-look coaching staff.

While the Ravens are identified with their powerhouse men’s basketball program, head coach Pierre Alain is hoping to emulate such success. During the 2012-13 season, Alain served as an assistant coach to the Montreal Stars, appearing in the 2013 Clarkson Cup finals. Last autumn, the  Ravens preseason saw the past and present collided for Alain as the Stars engaged the Ravens in an exhibition match. As a side note, the Toronto Furies also entertained the Ravens. Despite two tough losses, the experience gained, and the thrill of competing against some of the world’s best hockey players, was a positive learning experience for Alain’s players.

Of note, Alain’s hockey resume is nothing short of impressive. As Lisa Haley had to temporarily vacate her position as head coach with the Ryerson Rams during the 2013-14 season, in order to fulfill a lifelong dream of coaching with the Canadian national team at the Sochi Winter Games, Alain did an admirable job in her place. The experience would provide Alain with invaluable CIS coaching experience, preparing him for his new role with the Ravens.

For the 2011-12 season, Alain earned his own chance to be part of Hockey Canada’s prominent national women’s program. Serving as head coach of the U18 team, a remarkable group of players would grow to become part of a phenomenal who’s who of women’s hockey. Players such as Erin Ambrose, Meghan Dufault, Shannon MacAulay, Emerance Maschmeyer and third-generation hockey player Laura Stacey were among the members of his roster that led Canada to a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s World Hockey Championships.

Joining him in the latest chapter of his hockey journey is Lyne Landry, one of the most prominent builders of women’s hockey in Ottawa. While she first served on the Ravens coaching staff in the 2012-13 campaign under Shelley Coolidge, she is also known for her role as a CWHL competitor. One of the members of the Ottawa Capital Canucks, competing in the CWHL’s inaugural season (2007-08), she would serve as one of the club’s leaders.

After the team (later rechristened Ottawa Lady Senators) was dissolved in the aftermath of the 2009-10 season, she would serve in a leadership capacity for an elite Senior A women’s hockey league. Through her current role as a coach, her legacy in Ottawa women’s hockey only strengthens as a strong sense of local pride brings encouragement to the rebuilding Ravens.

Joining the fold is Jody Katz, whose CWHL background includes coaching, management and executive leadership. Having once played at the NCAA level for Niagara University, Katz worked to tirelessly to maintain the status of the Brampton Thunder as one of the finest franchises in all of Canada. Having drafted a pair of Patty Kazmaier Award winners (Sara Bauer, Vicki Bendus) during her time as Brampton’s GM, she was also willing of consideration to CIS players.

Her most famous CIS player was legendary goaltender Liz Knox, the winner of the 2010 Brodrick Trophy. As head coach of Brampton in 2012, Katz showed great confidence in Knox, making her the starting goalie. The Wilfrid Laurier alum would reward Katz’s faith in her. Leading the club to the Clarkson Cup finals, Knox became the first rookie in Cup history to start in a championship game. By Katz drafting several CIS players, it not only raised the profile of CIS hockey but showed its significance as a great source of hockey talent.

With three highly acclaimed individuals ready to bring winning hockey and a fundamentally sound game to the Carleton Ice House, it also provides great promise with recruiting. Such key building blocks that were acquired in autumn 2014 included forward Sidney Weiss and goaltender Katelyn Steele, both among the Ravens leaders in numerous statistical categories.  Although every win shall be hard-earned in such a tough conference, the confidence instilled by the CWHL influenced coaching staff should ensure that the Ravens are ready to fly higher than ever.
Images obtained from Carleton Ravens Athletics

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