After two solid seasons with Alberta’s franchise in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Olivia Sutter spent the 2013-14 campaign with the McGill Martlets of Canadian Interuniversity Sport. The move would pay remarkable dividends as Sutter earned the opportunity to be part of the Martlets squad that earned the 2014 CIS National Championship.
“It means so much. We had all the assets and we had the motivation and heart. We had been off to a great start this season and we always wanted to get there.”
Hailing from Red Deer, Alberta, Sutter is not related to the famous family that had six brothers compete in the National Hockey League. There is no denying that Sutter is contributing to a legacy of highly talented women’s hockey players from Alberta.
In reflecting on her inaugural season with the Martlets, it is one that Sutter looks back on fondly. While some programs aim for a postseason berth, the winning culture that defines the nationally ranked McGill Martlets program is such that championships are the goal.
For Sutter, the opportunity to be part of such a remarkable group of dedicated hockey people helps to add a new dimension to her game. The chance to be part of the Martlets program is also a great source of motivation.
“It has been tons of fun but it is also busy and hectic. The practices are high tempo and we work hard but we always want to do better.”
Of note, the Martlets are not Sutter’s first sojourn in CIS play. During the 2010-11 campaign, she had competed as a freshman in Ottawa, Ontario with the Carleton Ravens, playing under head coach Shelley Coolidge. Her return to McGill means that the Ravens are now a division rival. On playing against her former teammates at Carleton, Sutter speaks of it fondly,
“It is a different situation as I still have friends from the team. I talk to them after the game but on the ice, I want to win. It is a good rivalry and shows what we can do.”
Of all her former teammates on the Ravens, goaltender Tamber Tisdale is also one of her best friends and earliest teammates. Tisdale also grew up in Red Deer and their careers were intertwined for many years, creating a special, somewhat sisterly bond.
“We have known each other since middle school in Red Deer. We played together in peewee and bantam, we even went to Notre Dame College together.”
Prior to her return to CIS play, Sutter sandwiched in two seasons with Team Alberta (currently known as the Calgary Inferno) in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Playing for head coach Tim Bothwell (like McGill head coach Peter Smith, both have served on Melody Davidson’s coaching staff for Team Canada at the Winter Games), Sutter certainly enhanced her fundamentally sound game.
Having forged strong friendships during her CWHL tenure, she is very proud of the Inferno’s efforts in qualifying for their first-ever postseason berth in 2014. “I am super excited. I truly hope they enjoyed the Clarkson Cup playoffs. They really deserve it. I talk to many of them quite a bit.”
As her former CWHL teammates Meaghan Mikkelson, Tara Watchorn and Jocelyne Larocque were part of the Canadian contingent that helped claim the gold at Sochi, Sutter could not help but feel an extra sense of national pride in watching them win. “I am so proud of them. I could not wait to watch them.”
While her current focus is on helping the Martlets maintain their winning tradition and remain contenders in 2015, the CWHL and her former teammates remain close to her heart. It is the type of devotion that makes Sutter a model teammate and a player that anyone would love to have on their roster,
“I was really fortunate to have played two years there. The friendships were great and hope to go back after the CIS is finished.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”