Among the graduating members of the 2015-16 edition of the Carleton Ravens women’s ice hockey program, the players that shall return next season have been positively impacted by the presence of blueliner Hedda Gjerde. With an illuminating smile that reflects a mood where the friendships and fair play are just as significant as the enjoyment of gracing the ice.
From Shelley Coolidge, whose extensive experience can be traced back to trying out for Canada’s first-ever national team in 1990, to Pierre Alain, who led the Canadian national women’s team to the gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, she was surrounded by a group of mentors with great insights on the game. In addition, Ottawa resident Lyne Landry, a CWHL All-Star selection during their inaugural season, served on the coaching staff for both, bringing a consistent presence to Gjerde’s Ravens experience.
Gjerde brought a tireless effort, all in the goal of helping lift the Ravens, working towards the goal of thriving in an ultra-competitive conference. On a team filled with 16 freshmen and five sophomores this season, Gjerde and team captain Tawnya Guindon were thrust into veteran roles. Accepting said role as a personal challenge, Gjerde excelled,
“My time with the Ravens has definitely developed me not only as a player but also as a person. Starting out (in) my first year as more of a low profile player, finding my spot on the team as well as adapting to a new culture and a foreign language.
Now, being the oldest player on the team, I have automatically taken on a more leading role both on and off the ice. I believe this will benefit me in my future challenges with team Norway.”
Also a member of the Norwegian national women’s ice hockey team, Gjerde is a world-class talent whose first exposure to the Ravens came via an exhibition game that saw Norway travel to Ottawa. Prior to the Ravens, she would also play two seasons for MODO in Sweden’s Riksserien. Raised in Hoenefess, Gjerde would make 42 appearances for the Ravens, while graduating with a degree in psychology.
With no shortage of international experience during her Ravens career, which also included an exhibition game against Ravens coach Sara Seiler and the German national women’s team in 2013, Gjerde recently competed with Norway at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships. Competing in Division I competition as part of Group A play, Norway defeated Latvia in relegation. Gjerde was part of a blueline unit for the Norwegians that featured team captain Ingrid Morset.
In four proud seasons with the Ravens, Gjerde was a visible member of the team, participating in the Scotiabank Girls Hockey Fest at Ottawa’ Canadian Tire Centre, which was led in Novermber 2015 by Winter Games gold medalist Meghan Agosta. A few weeks earlier, there was another memorable time, which would prove to be a favorite moment for Gjerde. A November 13 home date with the McGill Martlets provided a monumental chapter in Ravens history. In the last five seasons, the Martlets have practically owned the Ravens, rarely losing to them.
Things would take a surprising turn as Katelyn Steele stopped 35 Martlet shots in a 1-0 blanking. A second period shot by Gjerde would be deflected by Becky Davidson for the game-winning tally. Of note, the assist would prove to be Gjerde’s final point in CIS play, one that she shall cherish for years to come, while hopefully serving as a turning point for an ambitious Ravens franchise looking to climb into the championship picture,
“The past four years have been a constant roller coaster of great achievements as well as learning experiences. Yet, the one moment that stands out the most was when we this season beat McGill in regular season game and wrote Carleton women’s hockey history. Being underdogs and still working on developing the program with a dominating number of first year players, it was a great achievement and a stepping stone for the future of the team.”
While she has plans to continue her career by playing professionally in her native Norway, the Ravens will always hold a special place in her heart. Part of a proud legacy of international players for the Ravens, this stay-at-home blueliner truly found a second home and a second family in Ottawa,
“I will miss the girls as well as all the people I have worked with behind the scenes through the years. The amazing staff surrounding the team, doctors, athletic trainers as well as physical trainers, are just some of the privileges that come with representing the Ravens.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image from: Carleton Ravens athletics