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Dream Season Concludes for Kelly Campbell As She Leads Western Mustangs to First-Ever CIS National Title

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If one goaltender was the most valuable to her team during the 2014-15 Canadian Interuniversity Sport season, that honor must go to Kelly Campbell of the University of Western Ontario Mustangs. As one of the top programs competing in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference, Campbell provided her team with the confidence to climb into the national championship picture.

Complemented by the abilities of Second-Team All-Canadian Katelyn Gosling, Campbell (who was named to the First-Team) also assembled a remarkably superlative season that saw her finish in the CIS Top 10 in seven different categories. Among her impressive numbers, she would rank fifth in goals against average with a miniscule 1.23 mark, while her 16 wins (compared to only four losses) and sparkling .954 save percentage placed her second in the nation.

The last few seasons have seen the likes of the McGill Martlets and the Montreal Carabins dominating at the CIS national titles. Fittingly, the road to the Golden Path trophy in 2015 would see the Mustangs take on both teams at the CIS nationals.

As the top-two ranked teams in the nation, the Martlets and Carabins also renewed rivalries in the gold medal game of the 2014 CIS Nationals. For the Mustangs, the chance to defeat both teams would represent the ultimate Cinderella story, a chance to truly be regarded as undisputed national champions.

In both games, Campbell would prove to be the decisive factor. Shocking the Carabins in the semi-finals by registering a shutout in a 2-0 win, she would register 28 saves (including 13 in the second), while the Mustangs only managed 17 shots on Elodie Rousseau-Sirois. With 20 seconds remaining in the second stanza, Cassidy Gosling scored what proved to be the game-winning tally. Campbell’s efforts were an important element in making the Mustangs believes that a national title was within grasp.

The top-ranked (and favored) Martlets were the only obstacle between the Mustangs and the top prize in CIS women’s ice hockey. Playing the game of her life, Campbell not only registered 38 saves against the Martlets, but she nullified three Martlet power plays in the first period, setting the tone for the remainder of the gold medal game.

Taking into account that McGill featured the likes of Katia Clement-Heydra, the 2014 winner of the Brodrick Trophy, along with Melodie Daoust, a member of Canada’s gold medal roster at Sochi 2014, Campbell was tested often. Facing 17 shots in the first, followed by 14 shots in the second, she would frustrate the highly talented Martlets forwards. 

Compared to Campbell, Martlet goaltenders registered only 10 saves in the entire game (four by fifth-year player Taylor Hough and six by Brittany Smrke) on just 15 shots. In three playoff games, Campbell would allow only one goal on 94 shots. For her efforts in the 5-0 shutout, part of a series of back-to-back shutouts against the top two teams in the nation, Campebll was rightfully recognized as the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player while earning CIS Female Athlete of the Week honors.

Such honors only add to a legacy that has seen Campbell win the University of Western Ontario’s first-ever Female Athlete of the Year Award (2012-13) while leading Canada to a gold medal at the Winter Universaide in Trentino, Italy. Considering that she once had recruitment offers from the likes of Boston College, Colgate and Harvard University, Campbell’s decision to suit up for Western has paid remarkable positive dividends.

Emerging as the best CIS goalie of her generation, Campbell has one more season of eligibility, allowing fans who have not yet seen her in action to appreciate her talents. While she also has career ambitions to be an airlines pilot, having already earned a commercial and private pilot’s license (akin to Furies skater Mallory Deluce), her contributions in the ascension of the Western Mustangs to national champions represents another storied chapter in the growing lore of CIS women’s hockey.

Image obtained from: http://www.westernmustangs.ca/news/2015/3/18/WHOCKEY_0318151133.aspx

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