After celebrating national holidays on both sides of the border, the NWHL’s commitment to growing the game resulted in a series of Canadian training camps. Beginning in Montreal, where Stanley Cup champion Gaston Gingras led the on-ice scrimmage, the second day brought the ambitious initiative to Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, Ontario.
Held at Roger Senecal Arena in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans, there was a blend of talent from both the CIS and NCAA that graced the ice. Headlining the talent was a pair of players that have made a mark locally in hockey.
Fresh off a gold medal with the Canadian national team at the 2015 Women’s World Street Hockey Championships in Zug, Switzerland, Elysia Desmier displayed remarkably strong on-ice skills. Having played with the Brampton Thunder in years past, Desmier set a great example for the younger players on the ice.
Raised in Ottawa, Rebecca Dow is a proud product of the capital region’s remarkable hockey system. With her hockey roots tracing back to Ottawa Sting boys hockey, she has participated in the NCCP Ottawa Senators program, along with a stint in the PWHL, Ontario’s highest level of junior play for girls.
With teams decked out as Team Red and Team White, they were led in on-ice scrimmages by Nepean-based coach Greg Bowles. Both playing for Team Red, Dow had number 11 adorning the back of her jersey, while Desmier donned number 12.
Currently with the Carleton Ravens in CIS play, Dow’s most recent season involved the opportunity to play for head coach Pierre Alain. A former assistant coach with the Montreal Stars, Alain also has a coaching background with Hockey Canada.
“We all learned a lot with him. He held great practices and we improved a lot as a team.”
One of the highlights of Dow’s experience at the NWHL camp involved the chance to be joined by two other Ravens players in the on-ice scrimmages. The result was a much more pleasant environment,
“Being on the ice with them was great. I have not seen those girls in a while. It was nice to see them. We had fun on the ice and it eased nerves.”
With another season of eligibility remaining with the Carleton Ravens, Dow shall certainly be part of a bigger leadership role. Although Ottawa has not enjoyed professional women’s hockey since the Ottawa Lady Senators folded in spring 2010, the city’s impact in the sport has not diminished.
From hosting the IIHF Women’s Worlds in 2013, to the remarkable impact of Do It for Daron, complemented by two powerhouse PWHL clubs, Ottawa continues to rise in prominence. For the promising NWHL to consider Ottawa as a location worthy of evaluating talent is a point of pride for Dow,
“Definitely! Ottawa is such a great hockey city. The women’s game has grown immensely over the years with the number of teams in the surrounding areas.”
With NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan on-hand at each of the stops on the Canadian camps, she was also a participant in Ottawa’s Five Hole for Food (FHFF) charitable cause. Held on Ottawa’s famous Sparks Street, Rylan was among a group of hockey humanitarians participating in a street hockey event that helped secure donations of canned food.
Getting the opportunity to meet Richard Loat, the founder of FHFF, it was testament to Rylan’s proud efforts to help the NWHL improve the quality of life in the community through its admirable NWHL Foundation. Of note, Rylan was also at the FHFF event held at Yonge and Dundas Square in Toronto.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits at NWHL camp: Mark Staffieri