Having made her mark in the Ravens’ record books in just her first season with the team, forward Delaney Ross was rewarded for a riveting season with a pair of honors. Beginning with a spot on the RSEQ All-Rookie Team, she was also named to the U SPORTS All-Rookie Team. Of note, Ross becomes only the second player in Ravens history to gain national honors, joining the ranks of Kerri Palmer, whose inaugural season in 2007-08 also culminated with a spot on the national All-Rookie Team.
The pride of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Ross made an immediate impression with the rebuilding Ravens. By season’s end, she would tie the program’s single-season record for most points in a season. Perhaps more impressive, she became the first point-per-game player in program history.
With a team that scored 39 goals, the presence of Ross was invaluable as she accounted for almost half of the offensive output. Among all rookies in Canadian university play, Ross finished in a tie for second in scoring, matched by another highly touted recruit, Audrey Belzile of the conference rivals Concordia Stingers.
Of note, Ross was five points shy of the national rookie scoring title, trailing forward Annie Berg of the Brock Badgers, who was recognized as the OUA Rookie of the Year. While Berg and UBC blueliner Mairead Bast of the number-one ranked UBC Thunderbirds joined Ross on the U Sports All-Rookie Team, the most unique aspect may have been the fact that four of the six All-Rookies hailed from the RSEQ Conference, testament to the level of competition and quality players. Including Ross were fellow forward Jade Downie-Landry and U Sports Rookie of the Year Tricia Deguire from McGill, along with Concordia blueliner Alexandra Nikolidakis.
“It was such an honour. I knew many of the rookies from the west. Either (I) played with or against them before, and the rookies in the RESQ were very good. Therefore, for me to be in that mix with that talent it is a great honour. It actually took a while for being recognized, as that caliber (is) overwhelming and a bit to sink in.”
Ranked nationally in the top 50 in points and goals, complemented by a solid top 10 finish in short handed goals, Ross would score her first goal, fittingly, in her U Sports debut, an October 22 road match at cross-town rival Ottawa. With the score tied at 1-1, Ross scored at the 13:11 mark of the first, with team captain Tawnya Guindon and Andreanne Carlos logging the assists on this milestone goal.
The goal would lead to a remarkable momentum for Ross, as she opened her Ravens career with a four-game scoring streak, which included two signficiant victories on home ice. With the Ravens holding their home opener on October 23, Ross gained an assist in a 3-2 win against the defending national champion Carabins de Montreal. A November 4 home affair with the eventual U Sports 2017 silver medalist McGill Martlets saw Ross log an assist in a sensational 4-2 triumph.
As the season progressed, continued success against the Ottawa Gee-Gees emerged as one of the themes of Ross’ remarkable rookie campaign. A November 20 contest at Ottawa saw Ross record a pair of goals, while the Ravens forced the Gee-Gees to a shootout. Despite the heartbreaking outcome in the shootout, the heroics supplied by Ross in regulation time only added to her growing impact with the program.
Of note, she would score the first short-handed goal of her Ravens career, which would force overtime, while providing her team with the confidence that a comeback win was possible. Simultaneously, it stood as one of the highlights in her inaugural season in Canada’s capital region.
“One of my favorite moments would probably be against the Gee-Gees. I scored the first goal, then we were down by one with less than two minutes left (and) our team got a penalty. To my surprise, coach Alain put me on the PK for the first time and I ended up getting possession of the puck, carried it down the ice and beat the goalie glove side to tie the game. Yet, every moment getting to play with my teammates is a great one”
Another aspect of the shootout contest involved the fact that it would mark the beginning of a three-game scoring streak for Ross, highlighted by a multi-point performance against Les Carabins on December 2. Although the result was another hard-fought loss by one goal, Ross factored into every Ravens goal in the 3-2 final, quickly establishing herself as the heartbeat of the Ravens offense.
With the arrival of the New Year, it allowed Ross another opportunity to execute a masterful performance against the Gee-Gees. The January 13 contest resulted in more offensive wizardry, as she amassed her fourth multi-point effort of the season.
Finish her rookie campaign by registering at least one point in her final four games, Ross notched a goal and five assists, launching her to the front of a talented rookie class in RSEQ play. Among the highlights of this four-game scoring streak included a pair of assists in a road match at Concordia on February 10, and a pair of assists to close out the season in a 3-2 loss at McGill. Once again, Ross factored into every one of her team’s goals in those games. As a side note, both Concordia and McGill would qualify for the U Sports national championship tournament.
Except for one win, a 2-1 final on January 8 vs. Les Carabins de Montreal, Ross had at least one point in every one of the team’s wins this season. Finishing as the Ravens leading scorer with a solid 18 points, she not only lived up to her billing as one of the best recruits in U Sports hockey, she has emerged as a star player, whose potential should enable her to be the first player in program history to surpass 20 points in one season.
Already the cornerstone of the Ravens offense, Ross holds the potential to graduate as the greatest player in program history.While the anticipation for next season only serves to motivate Ross, what was accomplished this season is a solid achievement. In discussing what her reaction was to such a splendid season, proving that she can hold her own in one of the toughest and most competitive conferences in U Sports, two definitive words placed such reflections in perspective,
“Very proud. I played in some outstanding leagues (with the) PWM Steelers out of Lloydminister, Alberta, in the Major Midget Female Hockey Association, where I set the record for most points in a season. Then, I led the Warner Warriors in the JWHL for two consecutive years. Yet, moving to play against older players and very talented hockey players in the RESQ division, I just wanted to help out to be effective. I know my role and I do my best to play my role effectively.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Richard A Whittaker
Image of goal against Carabins obtained from: https://goravens.ca/news/2017/03/whky-ross-breakout-year-earns-u-sports-rookie-recognition/