Ready to stake their claim as one of the finest programs in U Sports women’s ice hockey, the Guelph Gryphons have built on their solid 2016 postseason journey with a sensational first half in the following season. With a roster that features an impressive array of highly skilled talent, the offense features Kaitlin Lowy, a stoic yet steady leader, whose tireless efforts are helping to set the tone.
Having honed her craft at the PWHL with the Bluewater Hawks and Mississauga Jr. Chiefs, Lowy has combined a fundamentally sound game with the maturity to take on a bigger leadership role this season. Adding to her impact as a team leader is the ability to display the flair for offensive creativity.
So far this season, Lowy has shown an even more remarkable proficiency on the offense, emerging as one of the scoring leaders in OUA conference play. Through the opening weekend of December 2016, Lowy ranks third in the OUA conference scoring with 10 goals, while teammate Kelly Gribbons sits atop the conference with 10 assists.
As a freshman in the autumn of 2014, Lowy would establish herself as a significant component of the program’s offensive attack, compiling a solid 16 points in 24 games played.
Her coming out party would come on the road in an October 15, 2014 contest against Toronto’s Ryerson Rams. Logging her first goal as a Gryphon, which was scored on the power play, she would also earn an assist, resulting in the first multi-point game of her career. Considering that it was the Rams home opener, Lowy was a key factor in spoiling the festivities as the visiting team emerged victorious in a 3-1 final.
Less than two weeks later, Lowy would provide another multi-point performance, amassing a pair of points against the Brock Badgers. Before season’s end, the Badgers would be overmatched by Lowy’s prodigious efforts. A January 11 match resulted in Lowy supplying her best output of the season, scoring once and logging a pair of assists for a three-point performance in a compelling 4-0 result.
Finishing her freshman campaign with six multi-point performances, an even more significant metric of Lowy’s value to the Gryphons offense was highlighted by the fact that the team enjoyed a 9-0 mark whenever she logged at least one point.
The sophomore season would see Lowy continue to fulfil her potential, emerging as a prime time player in a playoff run that was nothing short of legendary. Among the greatest goals scored in her career, none may have been greater than her heroic game-winning playoff goal against the powerhouse Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, eliminating them from postseason play.
“Scoring a series clinching playoff overtime goal was something I had dreamed of doing all my life but I never expect it to come true. The rush of blood, adrenaline and excitement I felt was far more intense than I had ever dreamed of it being. After struggling offensively all season, that goal could not have come at a better time.
My confidence was in pieces and scoring that goal put me back on track and from there on out the puck just kept going in. Scoring that goal is a moment ill never forget and makes all the tough practices, late nights, long bus rides, broken bones and sore muscles absolutely worth it.”
Scoring against Laurier backstop Amanda Smith for the hard-fought 2-1 triumph, it marked her second goal of the postseason, having also scored in the opening round against Laurentian. In recognition of her performance against Laurier, Lowy was fittingly recognized as the Gryphons Female Athlete of the Week. Although the win assured the Gryphons a spot at the 2016 CIS Nationals, the stakes were still high in the McCaw Cup contest.
Lowy’s heroic goal was more than an exceptional career milestone and a coveted highlight. Simultaneously, it was the essence of seizing the moment, supplying many countless residual reflections for a program that truly came of age in this playoff series, elevated from underdog status to national championship contender.
For several generations, elite OUA women’s hockey in Southwestern Ontario was dominated by the Golden Hawks, who set the standard for other programs to emulate. Of note, the last few seasons has seen a renaissance for the game in the hockey-mad region.
Highlighted by the dominance of London’s Western Mustangs, capturing the Golden Path Trophy in 2015, it led towards an epic conference showdown for the 2016 McCaw Cup, which pitted those same Mustangs against an ambitious Gryphons squad, rejuvenated by the likes of Lamenta, Lowy and Kelly Gribbons, among others.
As the Gryphons were looking for their first OUA title since 1998, Lowy would rise to the occasion, scoring twice on Mustangs All-Canadian goaltender Kelly Campbell in a surprising 5-1 victory.
Although the Golden Path Trophy eluded the ambitious Gryphons, there is an even stronger sense of motivation for this determined team. Part of their ascension towards the upper echelon of clubs in U Sports women’s ice hockey has included the opportunity to compete in preseason exhibition contests against NCAA clubs.
Three road games in three straight nights saw the Gryphons travel from New York State to Pennsylvania and then Connecticut. Although the Gryphons did not emerge in said games, it was understandable with such a gruelling schedule. There was no shortage of heart in these contests. From Sydney Dawson scoring her first goal as a Gryphon in a 2-1 loss to the Rochester Institute of Technology, to valiant efforts against Penn State and Quinnipiac University (the defending ECAC champion), such events were positive learning experiences, an opportunity for the program to continue to evolve,
“Playing against NCAA teams was a fantastic experience. Not only was it a great learning experience but it was an opportunity for us to demonstrate that elite women’s hockey exists north of the boarder.
Despite the results on the scoreboard we gave the NCAA a scare. We played with grit and represented our school, league and nation to the best of our abilities. Even though everyone expected us to lose we were unsettled with the results and left the US with determination to return stronger, better and unbeatable. I look forward to returning in the upcoming years as a much better team.”
During the first half of the 2016-17 season, Lowy has certainly made an impression, placing in the top five in three major statistical categories, helping to set the tone for the Gryphons. Among such categories, she ranks third in the OUA in goals scored, trailing leader K Lawrence of Windsor by a pair of goals, while Western’s L Kirkham ranks second with 11 goals. As a side note, Lawrence and Kirkham are tied with Lowy’s teammate Kelly Gribbons for the scoring lead.
Assembling six multi point performances, highlighted by a pair of game winning goals against the York Lions (Nov. 9) and the Laurier Golden Hawks (Nov. 23), the result has seen the Gryphons go undefeated. In addition, the Gryphons are also undefeated whenever Lowy scores at least one goal.
Statistically, Lowy’s finest performance took place in a 5-0 blanking of Laurentian, one of the OUA’s top teams. The October 15 tilt saw Lowy score twice, including a short-handed marker, while logging an assist in a three-point output that set the tone on offense.
Making her presence felt on the scoresheet, the jubilation of winning is only part of the process for the highly talented Lowy. Like so many other players that have gained the privilege of extending their careers at the university level, the chance to play with such a talented group of players has provided more than just teammates but treasured friendships. Undoubtedly, the players she skates alongside with are the closest she will ever play with in her career, and the feeling of bonding that comes from donning the Guelph colors is one that shall provide Lowy with a lifetime of memories,
“Playing for Guelph has brought me more joy than I ever could have imagined. Before arriving at the University of Guelph I was relatively unaware of what I was heading into. I knew Guelph was a strong team with a good coach and that was enough for me to want to play there. Yes, I was right about that much but I learned very quickly that playing for Guelph is a privilege and an absolute honour.
What I enjoy most is that we are not just a hockey team, we are a family that works relentlessly to achieve greatness. The strength of our team culture has allowed me to grow tremendously as an athlete. My shooting ability has developed to be one of the best parts of my game. I love to have the puck on my stick and when given a little time and space, my shot can be deadly.”