Hosting their third annual Pink at the Rink game, Ottawa’s Carleton Ravens continue to add to their growing local legacy as hockey humanitarians. Not only has the program hosted Do It for Daron (DIFD) games, raising funds for mental health, players have participated in Scotia Girls Hockey Fest events and have also volunteered their time when Hockey Canada hosted local events.
A near-capacity crowd at Carleton’s Ice House was on-hand as pink was the prevailing color of the day. From the home team decked out in stylish pink jerseys, with the stern Ravens logo adorning the front, to the visiting Montreal Carabins placing pink tape on their sticks in a show of support, an additional element added to the strong sense of teamwork. Fans were donned in pink scarves given out at the door.
In the game’s early minutes, the Carabins applied pressure in the Ravens zone, testing goaltender Hailey Perreault often. Lore Baudrit and Alexandra Labelle had strong scoring chances early on while Rika Pilon-Robert tried a wraparound shot.
Outshooting the Ravens early on, the persistence eventually paid off for the Carabins as Catherine Dubois scored an unassisted goal for the early 1-0 lead. As the period progressed, the Ravens struggled to mount an offensive attack as most faceoffs took place in their end of the ice.
Alternate captain Audrey-Ann Boutour would get the first shot of the game for the Ravens, but her backhand was caught by goaltender Marie-Pier Chabot. Although Ravens freshman Becky Davidson would win the subsequent faceoff, it was the Carabins who would gain control of the puck.
Although the Carabins continued to pepper Perreault with shots, the Ravens defense played valiantly. Working tirelessly to prevent another goal, Hedda Gjerde, also a member of Norway’s national team made a key play near the end of the first. With part of the net open, she quickly found the puck and dumped it down the ice. While Shannon Pearson and Tawnya Guindon both had scoring chances, the Carabins held on to their 1-0 lead.
Heading into the second period, the Ravens came out more aggressive, refusing to be intimidated by the Carabins, currently in second place in the RSEQ conference. Although an early penalty to Robyn Belland, the 2015 RSEQ All-Rookie selection put the Ravens in a penalty kill situation, they successfully nullified the Carabins power play opportunity.
Perreault, the fourth-year criminology major, continued to prove why she is one of the finest goaltenders in conference play. Denying Ariane Barker on three straight scoring chances, she had already faced 26 shots in the game as the second period reached its halfway mark.
Eventually, the Carabins managed to extend their lead, placing the Ravens in a two-goal deficit. Undeterred, the Ravens went back to work, with Kaylie Welk leading the offensive attack. Releasing a powerful shot that was blocked by Carabins blueliner Kim Poirier, the puck was not visible in the midst of heavy traffic in front of Chabot’s crease.
Once said puck dropped to the floor, Boutour pounced on it, tucking it into the Carabins net, to a roar of approval from an ecstatic group of Ravens fans. Showing signs of life, the Ravens were hoping to tie the score, as a feeling of confidence came over the team. Davidson would follow with a breakaway but her shot went wide.
Unable to tie the score after two periods, the Ravens were hoping that the third period would go in their favor. Despite being outshot by a 42-5 margin during the period, the Ravens were just one goal behind. Once again, Welk hoped to turn the tide. Weaving through traffic, she released a shot on net. A few minutes later, Guindon would get a breakaway opportunity, soaring across the ice with a determined effort, but was unable to slip the puck past Chabot.
Eventually getting the puck back in the Ravens zone, the Carabins managed to place a bit more distance between them and their opposition. Ariane Barker, one of the Carabins’ all-time scoring leaders, added a goal with Poirier logging the assist.
Facing a two-goal deficit, the Ravens continued to play valiantly. With cheerleaders in pink t-shirts setting the tone, the crowd was hoping for a comeback. Unfortunately, a four minute penalty for the Ravens put them in a difficult situation, as the penalty kill only added pressure.
By game’s end, the Carabins managed a fourth goal, resulting in their fifth win of the season. Despite their offensive struggles, there was never any sign of quit in the Ravens. Providing an admirable and determined performance, their efforts were inspiring, symbolic of the bravery employed by those who face breast cancer.
For Gjerde, who played a similar game several seasons ago in her native Norway, with the iconic pink ribbon logo adorning the front of the jersey, the game held tremendous meaning. As cancer has also affected her family, thoughts of those who were stricken were predominant in her heart,
“For sure, a match like this is very important. This is my third year with the Ravens and these types of games definitely represent an important cause. We have also played games for mental health and we like to give back to the community.
Back home, my great grandmother, along with my grandmother and grandfather all suffered from cancer. They all passed away and that was a big thing in my life. I wrote home about this game and told my family that it means a lot for me to play for them.”
Robyn Belland mentioned how the members of the team dedicated the game to all those in the community whose lives and/or families have been affected by all forms of cancer. An alternate captain on the team, Belland also serves as the women’s ice hockey team’s representative on the varsity council, following in the footsteps of graduating player Ainslee Kent. She shares how the Ravens are dedicated to many local causes, hoping to bring betterment to the less fortunate,
“We also have a food drive going on right now. We have worked with some grocery stores in the Glebe (an Ottawa community running along Bank Street), wearing Santa hats in the stores. We want to be visible in the community and we are also organizing a clothing drive.”
Also serving with Belland as one of the Ravens’ alternate captains, Audrey-Ann Boutour proudly supports such excellent initiatives. Reflecting on how the game is part of a bigger community effort, she shares how Ravens players hope to be a positive influence for the younger players in the community,
“We try to hold some practices on the ice with kids. We want to reach out and make our team more interactive. By reaching out to people, it brings them together.”
Team captain Tawnya Guindon has played in all of the Ravens’ Pink at the Rink games. With the DIFD purple heart logo on the back of her helmet, it embodies her leadership and dedication to the community. It is a role that she takes proudly and seriously as she is aware how local teams such as the Ravens need to set an empowering exmaple, “We also work with young players at Hockey Fest. All the girls look up to us and it is great to be able to set a positive example.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Mark Staffieri