Over the last four seasons, Kennedy Ottenbreit evolved into a cornerstone for the Dartmouth Big Green. Heading into the 2016-17 season, Ottenbreit was named an alternate captain for the second consecutive season, part of a leadership core that included fellow seniors Mackenzie St. Onge and Eleni Tabano. Among the amazing hallmarks in her treasured Big Green career, she was an iron woman, never missing a game in four seasons, totaling 116 appearances.
The pride of Grayson, Saskatchewan, Ottenbreit finished the regular season as the Big Green’s scoring champion, Ottenbreit paced all skaters with 11 goals and 17 points. Of note, it actually marked the second straight season where she tallied 11 goals, which also led the team in 2015-16. Another category in which she led the team in consecutive seasons included power play goals. An exceptional five power play tallies in her junior season was followed by three as a senior.
Having assembled a three game scoring streak from October 29 to November 12, resulting in assists in each game, Ottenbreit’s senior season also included a pair of game-winning tallies. With one taking place in a legendary senior night performance, the other also resulted in hallowed heroics.
Taking on conference rival Rensselaer, a scoreless third period required overtime to resolve a 1-1 deadlock. With a boarding call against the opposing team, it did not take long for Ottenbreit to take advantage. Just 13 seconds into the overtime power play opportunity, Ottenbreit found the back of the net, scoring against Swedish-born backstop Lovisa Selander. Assists were credited to Alyssa Baker and Tess Bracken in one of the season’s most inspiring performances.
Following such an accomplished senior season, Ottenbreit was bestowed the honor of a well-deserved tribute. Recognized as an Honorable Mention All-Ivy, it was the culmination of four fantastic seasons defined by loyalty, hard work and assiduousness. A treasured honor to complement her recognition as the Most Sportsmanlike Player at the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League, there was another aspect that added an even prouder sense of achievement.
Sharing in this milestone with Ottenbreit was fellow senior Robyn Chemago, who was the winning goaltender during many of Ottenbreit’s greatest performances. Named to the Second Team All-Ivy, she appeared in 24 games, while recording 682 saves and a career-high .928 save percentage.
“To be able to gain the recognition my senior year meant so much to me, especially because of the team and group of girls we had this year. Everyone on our team meant so much to me and day in and day out worked so hard to get better and play for each other.
I wanted to be able to walk away from the rink this season knowing I gave everything I had to the sport and for my teammates, and getting the honorable mention helped me feel like I, in some way, helped honor our team and my teammates and their character in receiving it.
It was a testament to my teammates and how much hard work we put in throughout the years as a senior class as well as this season with all the changes. As much as Robyn and I received the recognition, it was a true testament to the team as a whole because I wouldn’t have gotten it without them. As a senior, I couldn’t have asked for a team that was more special than ours was.”
During Ottenbreit’s career at Dartmouth, a unique Hockey Canada connection would emerge, even extending into the Ivy League with a rival team. An alumna of Canada’s Under-18 national women’s team, Ottenbreit would compete for her nation at the 2011 IIHF Women’s U18 Worlds. One year prior, fellow Saskatchewan native Jessica Campbell scored the gold-medal clinching goal for Canada at the 2010 U18 Worlds, providing Canada with its first-ever gold in the history of the event.
Running parallel to Ottenbreit’s freshman season (2013-14) in Dartmouth, Campbell would skate for Cornell in her senior season. As this season represented a hockey crossroads for both, it would see them become Ivy League rivals, a rare instance in their careers, and friendship.
Of note, Ottenbreit and Campbell were both members of Team Saskatchewan at Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Championships in 2009, hosted in Surrey, British Columbia. Campbell served as team captain, while Ottenbreit held the rare distinction of being the only player born in 1995 at the event. Ottenbreit’s legacy at the event would continue with successive appearances at the event, along with skating for Team Saskatchewan at the 2011 Canada Winter Games
Ottenbreit’s final season at Dartmouth would result in another chapter regarding the Hockey Canada connection of her career. Said season signified the first with the Big Green for head coach Laura Schuler. During Schuler’s accomplished coaching career, she also consisted spent time as the head coach of Canada’s U18 team.
Having also served as Canada’s head coach in a silver medal outcome at the 2017 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Plymouth, Michigan, Schuler was not the only link to Dartmouth on that team. A member of Dartmouth’s Class of 2016, Laura Stacey also skated for Canada’s U18 at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds.
Skating for Canada’s senior team at the IIHF Women’s Worlds in Plymouth, Stacey also held the distinction of calling Ottenbreit for three seasons in Dartmouth colors. Both sharing in the privilege as Hockey Canada U18 alums and 2011 Canada Winter Games participants (Stacey skating for Team Ontario), the two set the offensive tone for the Big Green.
Coincidentally, there is another member of the Big Green roster whose ties to the game are shared with Ottenbreit. Junior Brooke Ahbe called her a teammate for three seasons. Prior to their arrivals in Hanover, New Hampshire, each attended the world-famous Shattuck St. Mary’s academy in Faribault, Minnesota. Raised in Colorado, Ahbe was also an accomplished lacrosse competitor, who captured the Big Green’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2015.
Regarded colloquially as the “Hogwarts School for Hockey”, Shattuck’s alum reads like a who’s who of hockey, including the Lamoureux Twins, Brianna Decker and Amanda Kessel. Proud to have been part of its growing legacy, Ottenbreit cherished the opportunity to bring the lessons learned there towards reaching her fullest potential at Dartmouth.
“Shattuck was a very special place as well, and I owe the people and resources Shattuck gave me everything, especially for getting me into Dartmouth and giving me this opportunity of a lifetime. I loved carrying the memories and life lessons from Shattuck over to Dartmouth and sharing my experiences and moments here with Brooke.
As for Laura, she is an incredibly talented and skilled player who works so hard so playing alongside her and learning from her was an honor. Most importantly, it was her personality and her character of how caring and sweet she is as a human being that makes Stace so special and made my 3 years with her such an amazing time.”
Amazing would also be the best way to describe Ottenbreit’s captivating performance on senior night. Taking place on the final day of the regular season, with the Big Green hosting Ivy League rivals Yale; it was an electrifying game that placed Ottenbreit into program lore.
Registering a hat trick against the visiting Bulldogs, the first since her sophomore season, the feat was first achieved against RPI in a January 9 shutout that saw Chemago make 20 saves in the win. Scoring the hat trick against RPI goaltender Kelly O’Brien, it represented a treasured milestone that was destined to be repeated on one of the biggest stages of any graduating player’s career.
Bringing both of their careers full circle, Chemago would also be the starting goaltender for Ottenbreit’s second hat trick. After the first period against Yale resulted in a scoreless deadlock, Ottenbreit capitalized on a power play opportunity in the second to claim the first lead of the contest. Eight seconds after a penalty was called to Courtney Pensavalle, Ottenbreit logged the first goal of the game as fellow seniors Emma Korbs and Eleni Tebano were credited with the assists.
Before the second period would expire, Ottenbreit found the back of the net once again, scoring at the10:09 mark, providing Dartmouth with more than just a 2-0 advantage. The goal would stand as the game-winning tally, with Sydney Hill and Hailey Noronha logging the assists.
With such momentum, Ottenbreit was poised to complete her legendary performance, finishing her career on a grand note. It was at the 3:10 mark of third period that destiny was fulfilled. Scoring the third goal unassisted, it may have been the most fitting way to complete the hat trick, subsequently, the final goal of her spectacular career. After winning the face-off, it would not take long for Ottenbreit to retrieve the puck and fire it into the right corner past goaltender Hanna Mandl, as the Big Green faithful roared in loud approval, witness to one of the greatest moments of the entire Ivy League season.
Despite having sealed a victory, there was the other objective of a shutout for Chemago. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be on this day, as Laura Anderson broke the shutout bid, placing the beleaguered Bulldogs on the score sheet. Despite the heartbreak, Chemago would be credited with the win, bringing a glorious ending to her Big Green career.
In the latter half of the third period, the final curtain call in a landmark game, the Big Green would extend their lead, as Morgan Turner recorded her first goal of the season. Team captain Mackenzie St. Onge and Devon Moir, both seniors, earned the assists. As a side note, it was also the last regular season game for Yale captain Krista Yip-Chuck.
The aftermath of such a compelling performance still provides Ottenbreit with an exhilarating sense of attainment. Still absorbing the impact of what transpired, a sequence of heroic achievements, it was only made richer by the chance to showcase her skills with so many supporting friends and family on-hand, only enhancing the importance of her final game. Having brought her Big Green to such a captivating climax, the memories made shall be meant to last a lifetime,
“It was extremely special. I actually replay that entire game and the moments within it over and over in my head very often. As much as scoring was a lot of fun, it was more so the atmosphere of my teammates and family in the stands that really meant the most.
Scoring the hat trick and winning my last ever game alongside my teammates was honestly the least I could do to repay my family, parents, siblings and teammates for the devotion and support I have had my entire life. It will remain one of the best days of my entire life and I will forever cherish every single moment of that game and more importantly, the entire day.”
Adding luster to such an amazing performance was the fact that it was part of a tremendous five point weekend for Ottenbreit. The evening before, she would register a pair of points versus the Brown Bears, another Ivy League rival. The first point would see her combine with Noronha on a goal by Bailee Brekke at the 18:05 mark of the second period. During the third period, Ottenbreit would slip the puck past Brown goaltender Monica Elvin, with Brekke reciprocating on the earlier assist, while St. Onge extending her scoring streak to four games with the other assist.
Coincidentally, Dartmouth men’s ice hockey team also featured a senior scored a hat trick during the weekend. Achieving the feat in a 5-4 win vs. Brown, the serendipitous feeling continued as both were recognized for their heroics as the Big Green’s Hanover Brick and Brew Athletes of the Week.
While the remaining weeks at Dartmouth shall be spent with a focus on academics, it is also a time to treasure a stellar four year run that established Ottenbreit as a popular teammate and offensive catalyst. In reflecting on her time at Dartmouth, there are many moments to select from among the most treasured but the beauty of Senior Night rises to the surface, embodying what it meant to be part of such a special program, and play alongside a cherished group of talented individuals who shared her insatiable love of the game,
“This question is very difficult because Dartmouth is a place that you have special moments every single day. They are never ending. Between the friendships I made on and off the ice, the teammates that became family and sisters, or the continuous laughs and smiles, even hardships, you go through every day, especially as a student athlete here, I have so many I will hold on to forever. If I had to pick one though, it would have to be Senior day and that game against Yale for all of the above reasons I mentioned about that day.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Gil Talbot and Doug Austin