Among the premier programs in both Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and U SPORTS women’s ice hockey, the Guelph Gryphons have established a stirring standard of excellence. Embodying the essence of perseverance and determination, fifth-year captain Kaitlin Lowy entered this season with the goal of reaching the championship summit.
With a series of assiduous performances throughout the regular season, and the subsequent postseason, Lowy’s commendable efforts set the tone, instilling the strong belief that a championship was possible, testament to her revered role among the team’s leadership.
Employing a remarkable resiliency, with the captain’s “C” emblazoned on her jersey, Lowy approached the season with a feeling of mission. After so many deep playoff runs in previous seasons, Lowy was determined to see the program stake their claim among the nation’s finest, one that could only be affirmed via championship glory.
As the season unfolded, Lowy graciously recognized that such continued success was attributed to an incredible team culture, one that saw everyone make essential contributions. Indubitably, that feeling of unity was one that only furthered Lowy’s feeling of pride serving as team captain,
“I have always said that our team leads itself. There is so much strong leadership up and down our lineup that (it) makes my job easy. If anything, I am just so proud. I have seen how much hard work the girls have put in over the years and I am so happy to see them achieve their dreams.”
Ranking third in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regular season scoring race with a solid 25 points, Lowy placed among the conference’s top five in numerous other statistical metrics. Worth noting, her 13 goals ranked fourth while her four power-play goals placed her fifth in the conference. In addition, she topped all skaters in conference play in empty net goals while ranking second overall in short-handed goals, respectively.
Including the postseason, Lowy finished with an astounding 36 points, amassing solid totals of 17 goals and 19 assists. During both the regular season and postseason, when Lowy logged at least one point, the Gryphons enjoyed a sparkling 20-3-0 won-loss mark. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that when she recorded a multi-point effort, the result was an undefeated mark of 10-0-0.
Assembling two scoring streaks during the regular season, Lowy quickly established herself as the catalyst on offense. With her first streak lasting four games, from November 3 to 21, amassing seven points, the result included a pair of notable highlights. Scoring all of Guelph’s goals in a 2-0 win on November 3, 2018, Lowy followed it up by logging three assists in a 9-1 thumping of Laurentian on November 10.
Recording a hat trick in the last game before the holiday break, part of a fantastic four-point performance in a 6-1 road win at Brock, such a scintillating performance served as prologue. Following the holiday break, a January 5, 2019 contest saw Lowy rise to the occasion, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 road win versus the Queen’s Golden Gaels, thriving in a potentially difficult test.
Following the emotional victory against the Golden Gaels, Lowy continued her scoring brilliance in the New Year with a six game scoring streak, spanning from January 12 to February 8. Accumulating 10 points on the strength of seven assists, the greatest result from said streak was the fact that the Gryphons went undefeated, placing themselves in position for greater glories.
Assembling another six game scoring streak in the postseason, including three contests in OUA play, and all three contests at the U SPORTS national championships, the Gryphons prevailed by a cumulative score of 18-6 against their opponents.
With a roster that included fellow fifth-year phenom Valerie Lamenta, a former recipient of the Brodrick Trophy, fifth year player and defensive stalwart Meagan Lee, along with the likes of OUA Second Team All-Star Laura Crowdis, Karli Shell, Mallory Young, and rookie phenom Lauren Ianni, there was no shortage of strong women able to set a positive example.
The championship journey was one that involved an undefeated run in the OUA playoffs, besting the Brock Badgers, Ryerson Rams and Toronto Lady Blues for the McCaw Cup. With the McCaw Cup contested in Guelph, signifying the last game on home ice for Lowy, Lamenta and Lee, it was almost serendipitous that Lowy logged a pair of assists to overcome a 2-1 deficit.
Heading into the U SPORTS National Championships, hosted in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, each victory further cemented the Gryphons’ standing as a team most worthy of championship status. The opening game certainly consisted of dynasty and destiny clashing, as the Gryphons challenged the defending national champion Manitoba Bisons.
Coincidentally, the Bisons, who were led by Finnish star Venla Hovi, defeated Gryphons’ archrival, Western University to claim their first-ever Golden Path Trophy. Appropriately, Lowy scored the Gryphons first goal at Nationals, which was also the game’s first goal, enjoying a 1-0 lead over the Bisons. With the score tied at two-each after two periods of play, there was the unique sense of a passing of the torch, as freshman Nicole Mackinnon scored the game-winning goal, enabling the Gryphons to qualify for the medal round.
As the medal round saw the Gryphons challenge a pair of programs that have both won the Golden Path in this decade, instead of a baptism of fire, the result was a display of tremendous poise, enhanced greatly by Lowy’s big-game performances.
Starting with Les Carabins de Montreal in the semi-finals on March 16, Lowy contributed with an assist on the game-winning goal, scored by Mallory Young just 34 seconds into the game. With 13 different Gryphons logging at least one point, while Lamenta amassed 31 saves, constantly frustrating the Carabins offense, the result was a convincing 5-0 whitewash.
Opposing the dynastic McGill Martlets in the gold medal game, Lowy and Lamenta played the game of their lives. Erasing years of near misses, Lamenta recorded 20 saves, while Lowy found the back of the net at the 18:15 mark of the second period. Scoring on Tricia Deguire, assists were credited to Stephanie Gava and Karli Shell.
With Lamenta nullifying a Martlets power play early in the third period, the Gryphons continued to keep their opposition off the scoresheet, cruising to a 1-0 triumph. Scoring the greatest goal in the history of Guelph Gryphons hockey, it allowed Kaitlin Lowy a treasured opportunity to bring a celebrated ending to her career in true, storybook fashion. Marking the second straight year that a university won the Golden Path for the first time, the milestone is one that brought to a thrilling conclusion to an incredible decade of outstanding U SPORTS women’s ice hockey in grand fashion.
Heading into the epic championship game vs. McGill, undoubtedly a defining moment in program history, Lowy, who was recognized as the Player of the Game, reflects that the emphasis nearly bordered on simplicity, grateful at the opportunity to absorb the magnitude of this milestone, while refusing to be distracted by the opposition’s star players. With a collaborative sense of self-assurance which set the tone on this victorious day,
“Our team was calm cool and collected heading into the final game. We did not focus on the X’s and O’s or key players to watch, we just focused on playing and enjoying the moment. There was no special strategy, we just relaxed and believe in ourselves and we knew the game would go our way.”
During Lowy’s time garbed in the Guelph jersey, she experienced the prestige of skating for the USPORTS All-Stars at Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase in August 2017, along with recognition on multiple OUA All-Star Teams. Yet, the attainment of the acclaimed Golden Path Trophy, one that eluded her in her first four years was the realization of a dream supplying inspiration throughout a magical season. The ideal denouement that every player aspires to, Lowy attributes such success to a concerted commitment exerted by all of the wondrous women that donned the Gryphons jersey.
“I always wanted to end my career a National Champion so the goal is just a cherry on top! I just put the puck in the net; my teammates did all the hard work. The goal is really a reflection of everyone’s relentless work ethic all season long.”
In the aftermath of the Golden Path Trophy victory, there remained a significant haul of hockey hardware for Lowy and her fellow Gryphons. Head coach Rachel Flanagan captured the OUA Honour Award as the Female Coach of the Year, while the Gryphons earned unprecedented recognition as the co-recipient of the OUA Female Team of the Year. Of note, this marked only the second time that a women’s ice hockey team gained the honor in the decade, following the Western Mustangs in 2015.
Complemented by the talented Lamenta earned the University’s W.F. Mitchell Sportswoman of the Year Award, Lowy, who joined her as members of the OUA First-Team All-Stars, also left a lasting mark on the mythology of Gryphons athletics. Among four nominees for the Top Gryphon Moment of the Year, in which the winner is bestowed an award known by the nomenclature of the “Gryphie”, Lowy’s championship-clinching goal gained such revered consideration.
Among a group of distinguished athletes including cross-country runner Connor Black, track and field sensation Jenna Westaway and the Gryphons football team, for their come from behind win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees, the Gryphons Athletic Banquet served as the exhilarating backdrop by which the revelation of the winner propelled the women’s ice hockey program to greater significance.
Earning the Gryphie, enhancing Lowy’s relevance as one of the Gryphons greatest prime time players and most admirable leaders, surrounded by a jubilant group of teammates and friends, it served as an epilogue to the storybook finish of the Gryphons’ greatest goal.
Burnishing the unprecedented first of the national championship, the feeling of euphoria gained greater momentum by the revelation that Lowy’s jersey was submitted to the Hockey Hall of Fame, courtesy of the Gryphons athletic director. Privileged at the concept of her jersey preserved as an artifact of Canadian sports, such an honor was an empowering exclamation point, destined to affirm her place in U SPORTS hockey lore.
“I cannot lie to you, it is so cool. I never thought my Gryphon jersey would hang in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I am so proud and honoured. If they only knew how inspiring and dedicated the 24 teammates of mine are; our team would take over the whole Hall!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”