As the 2015-16 senior class of the Clarkson Golden Knights prepares for a new chapter in their storied hockey careers, it signifies the departure of another group of exceptional women that contributed to an unprecedented chapter in program history. Among such women was Erin Ambrose, a highly skilled blueliner who enjoyed the glory of the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four championship, the first national championship of any kind in Clarkson’s sporting history.
“The national championship was, without question, the most exciting part of my four years at Clarkson University. Not too many people get to say they have been apart of championship teams, let alone national championship teams. We were such a hard working group that year, and our leaders truly took us to the top. That senior class that year was extremely influential on me throughout my years here.”
Before suiting up for Clarkson, Ambrose held the rare distinction of already being featured on a hockey card, as she was part of Upper Deck’s World of Sport trading card set. It was a sign of superstardom that would help propel Clarkson towards great heights. As a side note, Jamie Lee Rattray and Erica Howe, who would also be part of the national championship team, were also featured in the same trading card set, foreshadowing the glories that would shape the program’s mythology.
Upon joining the Golden Knights, Ambrose would quickly reach her promise as the honor of ECAC Rookie of the Year was bestowed upon her after leading all rookie defenders with a sterling 36 points in 2012-13. During her career, Clarkson’s prodigy would continue to shine, continuing her promising career with the Canadian national team, including stints at the Meco Cup and the Four Nations Cup.
“Being able to don the Maple Leaf is always such an honour. There really aren’t enough words to express what it feels like. But everytime I am fortunate to be named to a team I always feel such pride representing my country. There is no doubt that I will continue to work to give myself the best chances to have that opportunity again in the near future.”
Part of a graduating class that included Olivia Howe, Renata Fast and Shannon MacAulay, who would score the game-winning goal to clinch the national championship, their senior night at Cheel Arena was highlighted by a win against Yale. Of note, Ambrose would contribute to the scoreboard as she gained an assist on the game’s first goal, scored by MacAulay. Later in the game, Amrbose would find Genevieve Bannon on a breakaway as Clarkson extended their lead. Adding to the jubilation of a victorious senior night for Ambrose was a proud family presence.
“There is no doubt that senior night was one of the highlights from this year. I was fortunate to have my parents here, as well as about 15 other family members come down for the weekend. My parents, and the rest of my family, have been my biggest supporters since I started playing so there was no question that to have them there with me on a night like that meant everything to me.”
Heading into her senior season, Ambrose, who was named an alternate captain for the second time, was determined to help the program maintain its status as a national power. Part of the effort also included a chance to reach several career milestones while adding to her growing legacy with the Golden Knights.
In the aftermath of the 2014-15 season, Ambrose joined the Golden Knights’ 100 point club as she recorded 109 points, tied with Marie-Jo Gaudet for eighth all-time. Delivering on all accounts in her senior season, a solid 28-point effort saw her surpass five players (Gaudet, Genevieve Lavoie, Brittany Styner, Juana Baribeau, Melissa Waldie) to climb into fourth on the program’s list of all-time leading scorers.
Ahead of Ambrose on the all-time scoring list are Britney Selina (148 points) and former teammates Carly Mercer (150 points) and Jamie Lee Rattray (181 points). In addition, her 104 assists are tied with Rattray for first all-time in program history. Not only does Ambrose graduate as the all-time leading scorer among Clarkson blueliners, she holds the single-season record for most points by a blueliner with a fantastic 50-point output, which led all blueliners in NCAA play in 2013-14.
That season not only resulted in the historic national championship, it was one filled with several accolades for the astonishing Ambrose. In addition to a share of the ECAC’s Best Defensive Defenseman Award, she was a Top 10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, a First-Team ECAC All-Star and a First-Team All-American, respectively.
The honors would continue for Ambrose in her senior season. Recognized as the ECAC Player of the Week (January 12), she would also garner ECAC First Team and ECAC All-Tournament nods, complemented by a spot on the All-USCHO Second Team. Statistically, Ambrose would assemble seven multi-point games, which culminated with leading all Golden Knights blueliners with 28 points, finishing six ahead of Savannah Harmon. Overall, she ranked fourth on the team in scoring, while her 21 assists tied with fellow senior Olivia Howe for third on the team.
Among the remarkable performances in her senior season her career, the game that saw Ambrose reach the 100-assist mark may have represented her finest. Competing against the rival Cornell Big Red on February 27, Ambrose would assemble a superlative four assist performance, the second in her career. The second assist of the game would result in career assist number 100, a power play marker by Notre Dame Hounds alum Olivia Howe. Of note, four different skaters who would score in the game including captain Shannon MacAulay, Howe, Kelly Mariani and Rhyen McGill.
Of note, the last goal, and multi-point game, in Ambrose’s Golden Knights career took place in the ECAC playoffs. Competing against a surprising Colgate squad in the semi-finals, Ambrose scored against Ashlynne Rando at 12:44 of the third, as Cayley Mercer logged the assist in a victory for the program. Despite a hardfought 1-0 loss to Quinnipiac in the ECAC Finals, the Golden Knights would show great resolve, defeating them in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Fittingly, the career of Ambrose and her fellow seniors culminated with an appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four. Although the chance to capture a second national championship eluded them, their collective impact on the program shall never dissolve.
A luminous and illustrious talent, Ambrose was a force of nature that helped to spark a golden era for Clarkson. Under the leadership of Matt Desrosiers, her contributions in helping to make the myth of a magical championship team in 2014, the first program not based in the WCHA to do so, placed her in hockey immortality, while endearing her to a proud fan base that shall remember her as a great teammate whose desire to play and win shall set a gold standard for the next generation of blueliners to don the Green and Gold.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Jim Meagher