As one of the leaders on the Carleton Ravens offense, Jessica O’Grady (who dons #13) is a homegrown talent looking to bring the Ravens to new glories. Prior to her collegiate career, O’Grady was a teen phenom with the Ottawa Lady Senators of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
She competed in the inaugural season of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2007-08. With the Ottawa franchise (known as the Capital Canucks during that season), O’Grady logged 5 points in 17 games.
After the 2009-10 CWHL regular season, the Senators would be one of three teams that were dissolved (along with the Mississauga Chiefs and the Vaughan Flames). “It was a little sad, those things happen,” said O’Grady. “I have found a new home here at Carleton, and I have enjoyed it ever since.”
Like many teenagers that competed in the early years of the CWHL, she was in awe of the more experienced players in the league. League superstars such as Jennifer Botterill and Caroline Ouellette were also part of the Canadian national team.
“Playing against Winter Games players was awesome. Just seeing how they play. They move the puck so quickly. Their shots were so good and they were tough. A good learning experience.”
Before her tenure with the Lady Senators and her debut with the Carleton Ravens, she played one season with the Oswego College Lakers in NCAA Division III women’s hockey. In her only season with the Oswego State Lakers (2006-07), O’Grady logged 15 points in 14 games. "I only played one year there but it was good. It was different, fun, and I had a blast playing there. It was a great atmosphere and I have nothing bad to say about it.”
With many CIS players (including her Carleton teammate Kelsey Evershed) having played at the NCAA level, comparing the two leagues can be difficult. “There are a lot of good Division III schools, but there are also many good CIS schools. It is hard to compare.”
When asked why she made the decision to leave Oswego, the answer was very simple, “I wanted to be closer to home.” O'Grady grew up in Nepean, Ontario.
During her career with the Carleton Ravens, she has had the opportunity to play for Shelley Coolidge. Like many of her teammates, Coolidge has had a positive impact. “I have learned a lot. She is a good coach. She sees everything in a different way. She slows it down for you, and is a great help!”
On the back of O’Grady’s helmet is the Do It for Daron foundation’s Purple Heart logo. DIFD honors the life of the late Daron Richardson, daughter of former Ottawa Senators (NHL) player Luke Richardson and sister of Cornell Big Red defender Morgan Richardson.
O’Grady has a hockey connection to Daron. “I was an assistant coach, and Daron was in that group.” Like so many others in the Ottawa community, Daron’s death was a great shock to O’Grady, “It was awful, terrible. There are no words that can describe that feeling.”
She added, “I wear the (purple heart) sticker for her memory. I wear the wrist band too.” Similar to the Livestrong yellow wrist band, DIFD has purple wrist bands, as purple was Daron’s favorite color.
A January 20, 2013 contest versus the Ottawa Gee Gees is one that Carleton fans will remember for generations to come. With a match that went to a shootout, O’Grady set a school record by scoring three shootout goals in one game. “In practice, we always do breakaways with the goalie. It is something that I practice often.”
Her accomplishment puts her in the same rarefied air as Jonathan Toews. He logged three shootout goals when he played for the Canadian junior team.
The event is one that is a great source of pride for the talented O’Grady. “It was pretty awesome,” she proclaimed. “The girls have started to call me Jonathan Toews. He is one of my favorite players as well.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”