Selected in the seventh round of the 2015 CWHL Draft, Elana Lovell holds the potential to be one of the draft’s steals. With a draft class that includes Brianne Jenner, Jillian Saulnier, Hayley Wickenheiser, Brigette Lacquette and Blayre Turnbull, the conversation has already turned to possibilities about a Clarkson Cup championship.
Should the Inferno finish the 2015-16 season with its first championship in franchise history, it would result in Lovell adding a second major title in her hockey career. Having played for head coach Danielle Goyette with the University of Calgary Dinos, the native of Kamloops, British Columbia captured a Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship in 2012.
Of note, Lovell not only scored a goal in the 2012 national championship game against the Montreal Carabins, she would even obtain an assist on Wickenheiser’s championship clinching goal in the 5-1 final.
The following year, Lovell and the Dinos would return to the national championship game, earning an assist on a goal scored by Sinead Tracey. Of note, said game also represented her final appearance with the Dinos, the final chapter in a distinguished five-year career with the program.
Returning to competitive play after a two-year absence that saw her spend time as a coach, the chance to continue her career in Calgary is one that carries strong meaning. One of Western Canada’s key hot spots for women’s ice hockey, Lovell returns to the pulse of elite play. Complementing such an exciting return is the chance to be able to play alongside Wickenhesier again, one of the superstars that helped forge a strong legacy in Calgary hockey, inspiring a generation to grace the ice.
”I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue my hockey career and am especially happy to be doing so in Calgary. Calgary has a vibrant hockey community, which I experienced first hand as a player on the Dinos, then as a coach with GHC and now am looking forward to immersing myself as a player within it again.
It is a privilege to play alongside and against many pronounced athletes and people, but I am also excited that I get to do so with my previous UofC teammate, Hayley Wickenhieser. Wick has a certain intensity and determination that raises the level of those around her and I am looking forward to playing with her again this season. It’s a great time to be playing hockey in Calgary and I couldn’t imagine playing anywhere else!”
Through the first four games of the Calgary Inferno season, Lovell, who wears number 15, has registered an impressive eight points and a solid +6 rating. Not only has she emerged as the leading scorer among all rookies in CWHL play, she is also the league’s leading scorer.
Registering two points in her CWHL debut, a 7-1 whitewash against the defending champion Boston Blades on October 24; it was part of a very memorable game for Lovell. During the first period, she scored the second goal of the season opener for the Inferno, with the assist credited to Jacquie Pierri.
Said goal not only proved to be the first in Lovell’s career, it also stood as the game winning tally. Later in the first period, Lovell and Brittany Esposito earned the assists on a goal scored by Brianne Jenner. Taking into account her strong performance against the defending Cup champs, it adds remarkable depth to a very strong Inferno offense.
”After all the stopped shots in practice, I was actually starting to think I had forgotten how to score. Knowing my role this season is a bit different than what it was on previous teams, it was a great feeling to capitalize early off a patient pass from Jenner and be able to contribute to our offense. Scoring a goal in my first CWHL game against a great goaltender only added to my excitement.”
During a Halloween matchup with the Blades at the New England Sports Centre, Lovell factored into four consecutive goals scored by the Inferno. Not only would she score at the 10:56 mark of the second, providing the Inferno with a 4-0 advantage, she would register three straight assists on goals scored by Jenner, Aina Takeuchi and Jenna Cunningham.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Lovell’s early success is the fact that she is among a growing number of CIS alums making an impact in CWHL hockey. Past CIS stars that have made a remarkable impact in CWHL play have included Ann-Sophie Bettez, the 2014 Angela James Bowl winner, and Catherine Ward, the recipient of the CWHL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award in 2013.
With a growing number of CIS players selected in each successive CWHL Draft, Lovell is part of an expanding legacy. During the 2015 edition of the Draft, 15 players from CIS play were selected, with Wilfrid Laurier alum Laura Brooker going the highest at seventh overall to Toronto. In making the exciting jump to the CWHL, Lovell noticed a difference compared to her formative years in CIS play.
“I have got to say the biggest difference so far has been trying to keep up with everyone at practice. I’ve played with skilled players in the past, but the amount of talent, work ethic and precision my team mates bring, day in and out to the rink has really pushed me these past few weeks.
Also, notable in the games that I have played in, is the maturity players bring to the ice. The players in this league were all integral to the successes on their respective college teams and when you have that much talent, composure and creativity on the ice, it makes playing in the games a lot of fun. It has been a treat so far and I am looking forward to gaining some more experience this season.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Joseph Leung