Although Laura Stacey’s senior season did not provide the desired results in the wins column, her character and dedication as a member of the distinguished Dartmouth Big Green program translated into strong leadership. A strong believer in the value of hard work, continuously looking to prove herself while building on past successes, this focus set a superlative example for the freshmen players to emulate in the near future.
Bestowed the honor of the team captaincy, she continued a proud hockey legacy at Dartmouth which has included preceding captains such as Gretchen Ulion, Sarah Devens, Kim McCullough (an eventual co-founder of the CWHL), Gillian Apps, Lindsay Holdcroft and Jenna Cunningham (a 2016 Clarkson Cup champion). Of note, Stacey shared the prestige of the Big Green captaincy with fellow senior Catherine Berghuis. Raised in Truro, Nova Scotia, Berghuis was named a finalist for the Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete Award.
The solid work ethic and dedication displayed by both captains yielded positive results as each gained multiple honors in the aftermath of the regular season. Stacey was recognized as the Big Green’s Offensive MVP and Team MVP. Berghuis was the recipient of another pair of team awards including the Unsung Hero and Sarah Kennedy Award. Beyond the prestige of awards, the chance to serve as Big Green captain resulted in many cherished memories for Stacey, who was proud to take on the role,
“There was definitely a lot of responsibility but it was an honor to be chosen as captain. Definitely it was something that I will always remember. It was a tough season for us, but I felt we had a strong team. We just hit some bad bounces. To be the leader on a team like this is something that I will always remember.”
In a brilliant career that featured many great achievements and moments, there was one particular moment that stands out for Stacey. Taking place during her freshman season, it was a moment that set the foundation for an enjoyable four-year run. With a February 1, 2013 contest on home ice against the nationally ranked Harvard Crimson, one of the Ivy League’s powerhouses, Stacey scored the tying goal to a roar of approval from the delighted fans in attendance.
While it may have been Stacey’s finest hour, the game was part of something much larger. One of the factors that initially drew Stacey to Dartmouth was the sense of family and togetherness that existed. The Harvard game was one that consisted of a strong sense of support from the community, a tremendous occasion that gallantly validated her decision to commit to the Big Green.
“There was a ton of small, little great moments. One thing I will always remember was my freshman year when we played Harvard. The game was on NESN sports radio and it was our biggest crowd on record. It was tied late in the game, but it was one of those games that gave me chills, to see the support we had here was incredible.”
In four sensational seasons, Stacey was an integral component to the Big Green’s roster. During every season, she led the Big Green in assists, testament to her strong playmaking abilities. Statistically, her 123 appearances resulted in 31 goals and 56 assists. Recognized as the teams Rookie of the Year and earning an All-Ivy Honorable Mention as a junior, her senior season resulted in a well-deserved nod to the All-Ivy League First Team, complemented by a spot on the ECAC Third-Team All-Stars.
Fittingly, her senior season culminated as the club’s scoring leader, racking up 23 points on the strength of 13 assists while missing just one game. Understandably, Stacey was not available for said game as she suited up for Canada’s National Women’s U22/Development Team in a gold medal effort at the 2016 Nations Cup. Stacey led the team in a couple of other categories, including assists per game, shots on goal, and shots per game, respectively.
Prior to Dartmouth, Stacey won a gold medal with Canada’s Under-18 team at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, the second for Canada since the tournament’s inception in 2008. As a side note, she would also enjoy the privilege of competing for Team Ontario in a silver medal outcome at the 2011 Canada Winter Games.
With hockey bloodlines that can be traced back to Hockey Hall of Famer King Clancy, a hockey icon whose banner was raised to the rafters by the Toronto Maple Leafs on St. Patrick’s Day 2016, he once played all six positions in one game. Stacey has proudly carried on in his legacy. In addition, her great uncle Terry Clancy competed in the NHL’s expansion season in 1967 with the Oakland Seals and donned the Maple Leaf at the 1964 Winter Games in Innsbruck. The chance for Stacey to emulate their legacies and also experience the prestige of competing for the Canadian national team only adds to her proud hockey heritage.
“To put on the Canadian jersey is always a huge honor. Something I dreamed of doing while in college is a great experience, a dream of mine. Playing with great players taught me a lot of things. I continue to pursue my dream of playing in the Olympics. I have been very fortunate to be part of this experience and keep having opportunities to represent my country. It is an honor to be part of it.”
Part of a graduating class that consisted exclusively of all Canadians, including fellow captain Berghuis, plus Zoe Brennan and Olivia Whitford, there were two other seniors that held a special place in Stacey’s career. Ailish Forfar and Lindsey Allen has been teammates with Stacey before, having all played their junior hockey together for the Toronto Jr. Aeros of the PWHL, going to the league’s Final Four twice, highlighted by a gold medal.
“A bunch of us had known each other from Toronto. Allen and Forfar are two of my best friends and it was awesome to play with them for another four years. Being with them has been amazing. We have also played together as linemates and it has been a fun four years, together through the ups and downs.”
Stacey’s senior night proved to be more than just a season highlight, but an event defined by admiration and appreciation, as exemplified by a loving surprise.
“For senior night, the crowd was packed and the atmosphere resulted in one of the best games I played the whole season. So many of my teammates became friends that I made off the ice.
My parents were there for senior night. My sister, who is currently going to medical school in England came too, which was a huge surprise. It was a pretty big event and after the game, they came on to the ice. We had a banquet the following morning and it was a really nice way to end the season, a culmination of four years.”
Senior night would see the six sensational seniors deliver on all accounts. Prevailing in a superb 5-0 blanking of the Brown Pandas, which saw goaltender Robyn Chemago obtain her fifth win of the season, Allen opened the scoring, as her goal would stand as the game-winning tally. Stacey would score twice while earning an assist on a goal scored by Kennedy Ottenbreit. Forfar would assist on both of Stacey’s goals while scoring the fifth and final goal.
Despite a losing season, everyone pulled together and contributed towards a victorious and spectacular senior night that will provide lasting memories for Stacey. Such a strong display of teamwork is among the elements that Stacey will miss the most. Coupled by the significance of friendship and family, it is among the values that Stacey instilled in younger players, ensuring that her legacy sustains,
“We had such an amazing team with great people. Some years were better than others. What I will miss the most are my friends. Going to the rink and seeing 21 happy people. It still makes me want to play hockey.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Feature image obtained from: http://www.ecachockey.com/women/2015-16/Game_Stories/20150412_Dartmouth_QU
Other images obtained from social media