Following the selection of goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer by the Boston Pride, becoming the first Canadian selected in NWHL Draft history, it opened the floodgates for a remarkable number of Canadian-born talents to join Maschmeyer in the inaugural NWHL Draft Class. Among them were a pair of hockey heroes with the Clarkson Golden Knights, one of the powerhouse programs in the ECAC program.
Having both proudly contributed to the Golden Knights Frozen Four championship in 2014, Erin Ambrose and Shannon MacAulay were among a select group of 20 elite talents looking to extend their remarkable world-class skills to the NWHL. As a side note, they were part of eight Canadian-born talents selected in the landmark draft.
Selected ninth overall by the New York Riveters, Ambrose became the first Canadian-born blueliner selected in draft history. She was part of a draft class that also included fellow Canadian Kimberly Newell, the starting goaltender for the Princeton Tigers. Should Ambrose decide to suit up for the Riveters in the aftermath of her senior season with Clarkson, she may have the opportunity to call a long-time rival her teammate.
Among the players nabbed by New York in the draft, American-born Alex Carpenter went first overall. Like Ambrose, Carpenter is a long-time product of her national hockey team’s system. Having faced off against each other multiple times at the IIHF Under-18 Women’s World Championships, the two of them as teammates would certainly mark an interesting chapter in their careers.
Despite being the second-last player selected in the draft, MacAulay may be one of the sleeper picks of the draft. Like Ambrose, MacAulay has also been part of the Canadian U18 and U22-Development Teams, experiencing gold medal wins on both levels. The two have grown together, blossoming into a remarkable pair of superstars.
During the 2014-15 hockey season, Ambrose was named to the Canadian roster that claimed the gold medal at the 2014 Four Nations Cup. Former Clarkson teammates Erica Howe and Jamie Lee Rattray were also part of the gold medal squad. In January 2015, MacAulay would suit up with the U22-Development Team. Joined by Howe and Rattray, they helped Canada capture gold at the Nations Cup.
In addition to being one of the taller players in the draft, MacAulay scored one of the most famous goals in the history of women’s hockey. Scoring the game-winning goal in the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four (against Buffalo Beauts’ draft pick Amanda Leveille), it marked the first time that non-WCHA team claimed the national championship, ending a 13-year long stretch of dominance.
Heading into Clarkson’s 2014-15 season, the honor of team captain was bestowed upon MacAulay, complementing the leadership presence of Ambrose. With co-coach Shannon Desrosiers stepping down to focus on family, the captaincy bore even greater meaning for MacAulay, who stepped up as one of the team’s leaders.
Such display of maturity and responsibility only added to her luster heading into the NWHL Draft. Registering a career-high 33 points, MacAulay contributed with eight multi-point performances, including two four-point outputs.
Although these Canadian hockey heroes hail from two different backgrounds and playing two distinct positions, their remarkable friendship and on-ice chemistry has captured the imagination of both Hockey Canada fans and the Clarkson faithful. With one season of hockey remaining at Clarkson, it shall be an emotional farewell tour, providing the fans in Potsdam the chance to appreciate two of their greatest ever before their NWHL careers will likely take them in different directions.
Image obtained from Facebook (Photo credit: Amy DiMarco)