As one of the finest pair of sisters competing in College Hockey America conference play, Brianna and Cobina Delaney were essential in helping raise the Robert Morris Lady Colonials program to championship status. While the roar of the crowds in NCAA play is part of yesterday’s glorious memories, both sisters are still making a remarkable impact in the game.
Having both returned to Canada’s Capital Region, where they grew up in Ottawa’s suburbs, their strong leadership skills and dedication are helping inspire confidence in a new generation of women’s ice hockey competitors. Based on their remarkable contributions as players, there is no question that their proud legacy will only continue.
Currently, older sister Briana is loaning her expertise on the coaching staff of the Atom A Kanata Rangers girls’ hockey team. The chance to see how eager and determined a group of young children are at not only learning the game, but willing to excel in it has proven to be an enriching experience,
“I love watching the girls get better and when they are excited about a play they made or are proud of themselves. Coaching ten year olds…they definitely let you know. When the girls want to get better and ask questions is when I find it most rewarding.”
Back in the CWHL’s inaugural season (2007-08), Brianna appeared in a pair of games for the Ottawa Capital Canucks. Coincidentally, Capital Canucks teammate Lyne Landry is also coaching these days, currently serving on Pierre Alain’s coaching staff at Carleton University.
Younger sister Cobina is currently part of the coaching staff with the Nepean Wildcats, one of the PWHL’s most prominent clubs. This season, three members of the Wildcats (Samantha Cogan, Lindsay Eastwood, Josianne Pozzebon) had the chance to suit up for Canada’s national team at the IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds in Buffalo, New York, bringing home the silver.
In addition to the satisfaction that comes with coaching such an accomplished and competitive group of young women, an additional element has made her coaching sojourn an enjoyable one. Of note, a familiar face is part of the Nepean coaching staff, rekindling past glories as well.
“The chance to coach with the Nepean Wildcats came about through the head coach Bruce MacDonald. When I moved back home after finishing my career at Robert Morris I wanted to stay involved in hockey. Bruce coached me when I played for the NCCP women’s team in Junior.
I have enjoyed watching the girls grow both on and off the ice along with ties in with their process of getting recruited. It’s great to share my experiences with them when they have questions about playing at the collegiate level.”
Considering that six Wildcats players have earned scholarships for the upcoming 2015-16 NCAA season, Cobina is hoping that they shall enjoy the NCAA experience as much as she has. In a proud career for the Colonials, Cobina and her sister amassing a remarkable 186 combined points, the most of any sisters that have suited up for the Colonials. For Cobina, the chance to usurp longtime CHA power Mercyhurst in the postseason was very treasured,
“My favourite moment playing for the Colonials would be winning the CHA championship my Junior year. Not many athletes are able to say they won a championship while playing collegiate hockey and I was lucky enough to get to share it with older sister. It was a pretty great feeling and now I have a ring to show for it for the rest of my life.”
Of note, the 2012 CHA Tournament championship game was the last NCAA game in Brianna’s career. Having logged the tournament-winning goal, she earned All-Tournament Team honors. She would graduate from the program as its all-time leader in goals scored, game winning goals and points, respectively.
“The entire experience was memorable. I loved everything about the school to the city. It’s hard to narrow things down to one moment. My entire senior year was so fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. Favourite moment: winning the CHA championship on home ice.”
Playing with her sister Cobina for three seasons, the two experienced another special milestone together. On January 8, 2011, Delaney logged the first two goals in a game against Connecticut. Cobina would have the opportunity to earn assists on both goals, signifying the first time in her Colonials career that she accomplished this.
When not at the rink, Cobina can still be found in athletic circles. Currently working with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, whose holdings include the famed Ottawa 67s hockey club and the Ottawa RedBlacks franchise in the Canadian Football League, Cobina continues to make an impact.
Currently, many former female student-athletes have begun to make inroads by finding employment in the traditionally male dominated field of professional sports. From Becky Hammons becoming an assistant coach with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, to current and former CWHL players such as Kori Cheverie and Rebecca Davies working in administrative capacities with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, opportunities for women in sport only continue to grow.
“In working with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, I definitely find it encouraging that more women are in key roles in the traditionally male dominated field of men’s sports. In OSEG, there are great role models that I look up to and some happy to be women- it is really great to see more women working in the sports industry. I believe that if a person wants something and works hard enough to get it then they will be successful in whatever career path they choose.”
Over the last few years, the impact of women’s hockey has grown exponentially in Ottawa. From two franchises in the PWHL to a pair of programs in CIS play, the region has also seen a remarkable number of young women advance to NCAA play.
Players such as Cassidy Campeau, Erica Howe, Cayley Mercer, Jamie Lee Rattray and Amanda Leveille have followed in the proud NCAA footsteps of Cobina and Brianna. Of note, these sensational sisters both followed the legacies of other Ottawa-area raised competitors that made their mark in the early years of NCAA competition, such as Chelsea Grills, Jaclyn Hawkins and Dominique Thibault.
For Brianna, the growth of women’s hockey in Ottawa is one that she looks towards with great excitement. Since the city hosted the IIHF Women’s World Championships in 2013, along with embracing Do It for Daron as an important cause in women’s hockey, a remarkable momentum, energy and sense of pride has enveloped the region, providing the perseverance necessary to see the city continue to develop into one of Canada’s women’s hockey hotbeds.
“It is amazing how much hockey has grown in Ottawa. There was only one truly competitive team in the Ottawa area growing up, and we didn’t even play in a league. Our first league was the PWHL and that was not until junior.
Most of us grew up playing on boys’ teams as well as the girl’s team. Now, there are tons of girls’ teams and lots of opportunities. I love seeing the game growing and expanding especially in the Ottawa area!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”