Skating in what may be the most competitive conference in Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s ice hockey, Tawnya Guindon represented the fighting spirit of the Carleton Ravens. Having spent the last three seasons competing for the assiduous Pierre Alain, not only has Guindon developed into an essential component of the Ravens offense, her solid work ethic and positive attitude stood out as key components in the Ravens rebuilding towards contention in the conference.
In addition to playing for Alain, a former head coach with Canada’s U18 National Team, Guindon’s leadership and mentoring skills also developed under the tutelage of other coaches throughout the seasons. Among them are the likes of Shelley Coolidge, and former CWHL players such as Lyne Landry and Meredith Ostrander. Former Ravens captain and competitor at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, Sara Seiler, was another positive influence, remaining with the program as team manager, providing her with a role model to emulate.
Rewarded for her dedication with the opportunity to serve as team captain, inheriting the honor from Sadie Wegner, it was the hallmark of Guindon’s proud Ravens career. Considering that Guindon is among a rare group of players to serve as team captain for two successive seasons, it is testament to her impact on the team, and the level of respect that she commands.
As meaningful as the captaincy may be to Guindon, the greater reward may lie in the fellow skaters that have worn the Ravens colors. Such skaters became more than just gladiators on the frozen surface of the Carleton Ice House, they would become cherished friends, helping to bring a profound richness to her hockey odyssey.
“Having the opportunity to be captain for this program two years in a row has been a true honor. I am fortunate to have played with great people who have made my role very easy and I could not think of a better program and team to share those accomplishments with. I have learned a lot from leaders that we had in the past and I am proud that I could do the same for the younger girls.”
To start her fifth and final season, Guindon assembled a pair of masterful scoring performances that shall undoubtedly be a significant part of Ravens hockey lore. Opening day for the Ravens involved a match with their conference rivals, and defending national champions, Les Carabins de Montreal.
Fighting back from a two-goal deficit, the Ravens would bounce back to eventually take the lead. Scoring the game-winning goal in grand fashion was Guindon. Weaving her way through heavy traffic near the Carabins crease, she would soar through the air, channeling the spirit of Bobby Orr as time seemingly stood still, and burying a beautifully executed backhanded effort past goaltender Marie-Pier Chabot, while the Ravens faithful roared in glorious approval.
Goaltender Katelyn Steele, whose season would finish with a nod to the All-RSEQ Second Team, made 47 saves as the university newspaper, The Charlatan, recognized the victory as one of the Top 10 Games of the Year in Ravens sport for 2016.
Such heroics would only continue for Guindon and her fellow Ravens in the second home match of the 2016-17 campaign. Facing off against the McGill Martlets, another national powerhouse, it was a team whose on-ice battles held a tremendous impact during her career.
Following a successfully freshman campaign, Guindon was part of a Ravens roster that challenged the Martlets in the first round of the RSEQ Playoffs. Trying to fight off elimination, the Ravens held a 2-0 lead, only to see it dissolved by a Martlets comeback in a highly visceral third period. The eventual loss resulted in tears flowing down the tired faces of the dejected Ravens, Guindon not immune to such sullenness. In spite of the loss being a defining moment for that season, it was one that would serve as future motivation.
Starting with a road win in the 2015-16 season, ending one of the longest losing streaks to one team in CIS history, it was a victory that provided Guindon with one of the highlights in her career, while leading the Ravens on a hard-fought road to redemption, gaining an element of retribution for such a haunting playoff loss.
Subsequently, it also served as an opportunity to develop momentum. One that would see Guindon benefit from with the chance to add another legendary moment to her Ravens hockey legacy.
From the outset, Carleton would never fall behind against the Martlets, setting the tone for an exciting game to unfold. With a 1-1 draw after the first period of play, Guindon would bury the puck past Martlets backstop Tricia Deguire to reclaim the lead, as Andreanna Carlos and Delaney Ross logged the assists.
After Jennifer Semkowski put the Ravens ahead by a two-goal margin, Jade Downie scored her second of the game with just 21 seconds remaining in the second stanza.
Throughout the third, the Ravens would continue to pepper Deguire with a countless number of shots, preventing the Martlets from tying the game. Once again, Carlos and Guindon would combine their efforts, as Guindon scored her second of the game, in an eventual 4-2 final, resulting in her finest hour.
It was a remarkable effort that displayed the quality of talent that competes for the Ravens, while proving that heart can defeat any team. Reflecting on such hallowed achievements, the element that added significant luster was the fact that she had family on-hand both times as she supplied a pair of legendary performances,
“McGill and Montreal are two of the top teams in Canada that we have struggle against in the past and so being a part of those wins and getting the game winning goals were truly great memories for myself that I will never forget. Contributing to those wins was a very proud moment for myself and my family.”
Statistically, Guindon would finish the season with a solid 13 point campaign. Ranking second on the Ravens in goals, assists and points, she trailed only Delaney Ross in each of these categories. Together, the two titanic forwards combined for 32% of the Ravens offense. As a side note, Ross saw her prolific season culminate with RSEQ All-Rookie Team honors, complemented by a spot on the prestigious U Sports (CIS) All-Rookie Team, recognizing the best rookies in the country.
As the Ravens continue to retool for the future, with one of the youngest rosters in the entire nation, the players that shall return next season, especially those still in the first half of their U Sports careers, gained a great amount in terms of leadership and team spirit from being in the presence of one as gracious and persevering as Guindon.
Such tribute was bestowed upon Guindon on Senior Night, as she was joined by family at centre ice for a pre-game ceremony. Fellow graduating players Kaylie Welk and Audrey-Ann Boutour shared in the sense of achievement, also honored for their contributions.
Taking to the ice against the Concordia Stingers for their final home game, it was the Ravens that made their mark on this emotional night. Of note, the Stingers would emerge as one of the biggest surprises in the postseason, qualifying for the U Sports national championship tournament.
On this night, Guindon would leave one more lasting impression, adding a magnificent effort. Fittingly, her effort would also signify her last points as a member of the Ravens, bringing her career to a serendipitous finish. .
In spite of the Stingers taking the first lead of the game, as Claudia Fortin assisted on a goal by Tracy-Ann Lavigne, the Ravens were confidently led by Guindon. Tying the game at the 13:46 mark of the first, as Ross and Valerie Bouillon gained the assists, the crowd erupted in an electrifying round of applause, defining the feeling of merriment among the Ravens faithful.
Less than two minutes later, Welk would make her mark on Senior Night, combining with Jordan Beshera to assist on Katia Boulianne’s power play marker. As the game’s narrative unfolded in the second and third periods, a defensive stalemate on both ends of the ice could only be quelled by another feat from Guindon.
Opting for an extra attacker, the Stingers showed risk by playing with the empty net. Displying her strong playmaking skills for the final time at the Ice House, Guindon fed the puck to Shannon Pearson, who deposited it into the empty net for the final goal of this emotional event, a 3-1 final that shall remain preserved among Guindon’s proud memories of her riveting run with the Ravens.
“I was very emotional going into senior night as it was our last home game wearing the Ravens jersey. I have had many great memories throughout the years and I could not think of a better way to end it then with everyone who has supported me through the years in the crowd and ending it with a win.
What I will miss most is being part of the Ravens family and the people surrounding the program. I have had so much support through my 5 years and made many great friendships that I will cherish forever.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image supplied by Tawnya Guindon