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Kelly Campbell Leaves Lasting Legacy with Western Mustangs

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The pride of St. Thomas, Ontario, Kelly Campbell assembled one of the finest goaltending careers in the history of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference. As the 2015-16 season represented the culmination of her fantastic five-year run, she was one of a kind, combining exceptional goaltending skills, a killer instinct and a dedication to her team that made her respected yet amicable. Consistently providing her team with a chance to win, she contributed to a magical in Western Mustangs women’s ice hockey history.

Statistically, Campbell has established a gold standard, which has immortalized her in the Mustangs sporting pantheon. Graduating with a .644 win percentage, Campbell would compile 2625 saves, 56 wins, a solid .944 save percentage and a sparkling 1.76 goals against average.

Starting 91% of her career games, she would assemble double digits in games started in each of her five seasons with the Mustangs, while gaining double digits in wins on three separate occasions, including her last two seasons. Perhaps more impressive were three straight seasons with a GAA of less than 2.00.

Reaching superstar status during the 2012-13 season, it would prove to be Campbell’s coming out party as she led all goaltenders in CIS play in saves. Such an achievement was highlighted by the honor of being recognized as Western’s first-ever female athlete of the year, while garnering OUA and CIS 1st Team All-Star nods, respectively.

Sensational in her senior season, Campbell finished the campaign with three straight wins for a mark of 12-7-0. Starting all 21 games, Campbell ranked in the top five for seven major goaltending categories during the 2015-16 OUA season. Among the most notable metrics, she ranked second in saves with 589, while her 1251:12 minutes played, .948 save percentage and 12 wins each ranked third, respectively. In addition, she would log a sparkling goals against average of 1.53.

Among the highlights of her final season was the customary senior night, honoring the celebrated careers of those who battled valiantly at Thompson Arena. Hosting the York Lions, Campbell and Katelyn Gosling highlighted a senior class of 10 student-athletes, all part of an unprecedented era in Mustangs history, which resulted in an OUA and CIS championship during the 2014-15 campaign.

They were joined by four forwards Brittany Clapham, Stacey Scott, Marlowe Pecora and Kendra Broad, while Gosling was joined by fellow blueliners Nicole French and Brianna Iazzolino. Surprisingly, Campbell was not the only goaltender to be honored on senior night. In addition, Katie Jacobs and Peyton Parker also see the sun set on their proud Mustangs careers, resulting in an interesting goaltending picture for the following season. 

The February 13 match saw Campbell gain the win in a 2-1 final for the Mustangs. Recording an exceptional 36 saves (allowing just one goal to Kristen Barbara), her performance was highlighted by nullifying seven Lions power plays. It was only fitting that fellow senior, and CIS All-Canadian, Gosling scored the first goal of the game. Fellow senior Broad would log the game-winning tally. For Campbell, there was a collective sense of victory as her family (also her biggest fans), were in attendance, having served as a remarkable source of support during her storied career. 

“Senior night was a very special evening for me. It allowed me to take a second to reflect and thank all the amazing people that have helped me over my career. As it was a home game, my parents were there supporting, as they always do, alongside my 89 year old grandfather. I am so grateful for everything they have done over the years. I would never have been able to achieve what I have without their continued support.”

Campbell’s legend was established at the 2015 Canadian Interunivesity Sport national championships, allowing just one goal in three games played. Sporting an exceptional .989 save percentage, she would record consecutive shutouts against the teams that played each other in the 2014 national championship game, Les Carabins de Montreal and the McGill Martlets. Undoubtedly, the glories that Campbell contributed to shall shape the myths of tomorrow.

Recording 28 saves in a 2-0 final against an explosive Carabins squad (who would go on to defeat St. Francis Xavier for the bronze medal), Campbell continued to propel the Mustangs towards history. With a McGill squad that featured 2014 Sochi gold medalist Melodie Daoust, Campbell was sharp as she stymied another high powered offense in a 5-0 blanking, highlighted by 38 saves. Although the Mustangs lack of experience at the national championship level may have placed them in an underdog status, Campbell’s confidence resulted in the program’s finest hour.

“The National Championship was an incredible experience. It was made especially special because we had had a rough year the previous season. It makes you realize how many things have to come into place at the right time in order to create a championship team.

You not only have to have the individual skills of each and every player, but you also need the right coaching staff, philosophy and team first mentality. I have never before been on a team that was so closely united; we were quite literally a family!”

For hardcore fans of OUA hockey, it was no surprise that Campbell’s season would culminate with such a milestone. Her sparkling numbers during the 2014-15 season spoke for itself. Campbell was an absolute marvel as she ranked in the top three in eight OUA goaltending categories, while ranking fourth with 25 goals against. During a stretch of 8 games, she would allow only 9 goals, resulting in a miniscule 1.09 GAA. In addition, Campbell would lead the conference in games started (20), save percentage (.954) and wins (16). Three categories saw Campbell ranking second, including GAA (1.23), saves (516) and win percentage (.800), compiling a season for the ages.

Equally impressive was a career milestone that Campbell accomplished during the 2013-14 season. Named to the Canadian roster that competed in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade in Trentino, Italy, Campbell delivered on all accounts.

Registering four shutouts in four games played (Dec. 12 vs. Russia, Dec. 13 vs. Great Britain, Dec. 18 vs. Japan) including the gold medal game, another shutout against Russia, it was a seminal moment in her career, one that truly solidified her superstar status. The chance to be able to wear the Canadian jersey and have the maple leaf emblazoned on the front represented the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice, the dream that every player works towards.

“To have the opportunity to wear the Red and White was something I will never forget! There are so many incredibly talented girls in the CIS, so to be chosen for the Universiade team is such an honour! It was definitely a dream come true.”

While next season shall bring a new starting goaltender (and a new head coach in Kelly Paton) for the Mustangs, it would be unfair to expect them to fill Campbell’s accomplished shoes. Instead, it should be a chance to reflect happily on a sensational athlete and a proud time in program history.

Campbell’s time as a Mustang represented one of the finest in her career, one that will never be taken for granted. As she approaches the future with great ambition, she also knows that there was a lifetime of memories accumulated at Western. While there are many elements that she will miss about playing for the program, there is no question that her remaining teammates and fans reciprocate such feelings, knowing that she made a positive impact on all of them. 

“There are many things which I will miss about playing for the Mustangs. I will miss walking into our dressing room at virtually any time of the day and having at least one of the girls there to greet you with a smile, always taking time out of their studies to chat!

I will miss all the Euchre games on our long bus rides, the numerous team bonding events and the feeling of getting to put on the white and purple jersey, standing with pride between the pipes, knowing you’re representing not only the other girls on the team, but the entire University as a whole!

Western has provided me with opportunities which I could have never ever dreamed of. The amount of support through all the levels of the University is beyond describable!”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

Photo credits: Portrait in purple jersey by Brandon VandeCaveye

Action shot obtained from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WesternWomensHockey/?fref=photo

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