As the only player on the Carleton Ravens team that played both defense and forward, Kelsey Vander Veen was an invaluable member of the squad. In her final season with the Ravens, the 5’11” skater from Lucknow, Ontario, brought a remarkable enthusiasm and presence to the roster.
With her versatility on the ice, she does not express any preference for one position, “I play both equally and I like playing both. I tend to play defense against good teams and forward against worse teams. It makes for more action.”
When asked if she considered herself a leader on the Ravens, Vander Veen replied, “Definitely. Even without a letter on my sweater. I tend to lead more by example than by chatter.”
Prior to joining the Carleton Ravens, Vander Veen competed in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League with the Kitchener-Waterloo Rangers. Her head coach was Shaun Reagan, who is currently at the helm of the Waterloo Warriors of the Ontario University Athletics conference.
“I really liked him as a coach. I thought he was good. I played for him in that inaugural season (in Kitchener-Waterloo) and thought he did a fantastic job.”
In the autumn of 2012, Vander Veen and the Ravens would have the opportunity to play Reagan’s Waterloo squad in an exhibition match. “It was not as intense as I thought it would be. I talked to him after the game and it was good to see him again.”
Two of her teammates from the Kitchener-Waterloo Rangers, Lauren Coxon and Carley Porcellato, are now rivals with the Ottawa Gee Gees. Having to play against them at the university level evoked strange feelings, “It was weird. We seem to go after each other more. Whenever I played forward, their defense heated up.”
As the PWHL has quickly evolved into one of the premier junior women’s hockey leagues in Canada, Vander Veen is proud of her association with the budding league. “I think it is great for women’s hockey. It makes the sport more visible.”
One of the Ottawa based PWHL franchises, the Nepean Wildcats, competes at Carleton University. Vander Veen has had the opportunity to support the team, “I have seen them, and we (along with Ravens teammate Victoria Gouge) worked with a few of them. Lindsay Eastwood and Sam Cogan (of the Wildcats) worked with us at hockey camps.”
Like many of her Ravens teammates, Vander Veen proudly adorns her helmet with the Do It for Daron Purple Heart logo. DIFD helps to honor the life of the late Daron Richardson, daughter of former Ottawa Senators defender Luke Richardson. “I have seen players from the PWHL all the way down to novice wear it on their helmets. It is great for people to see that, it is an eye opener.”
In one of her remaining home games with the Ravens, Vander Veen had the opportunity to participate in a contest (versus the Concordia Stingers) that raised funds for DIFD. “I think it is great when you can bring attention to an illness. It takes the pressure off of someone to get help if they feel they cannot. It is great to de-stigmatize something like mental illness.”
On Ravens senior night (the last home game of Vander Veen’s storied career), it was an opportunity for friends, family and teammates to celebrate her career. “I had a surprise before the game. It was really emotional. I love my team and I am really excited to play with them.”
As the Ravens qualified for the postseason, Vander Veen has the opportunity to extend her playing career a little longer. While she kept her emotions in check during senior night, it may be different as the playoffs signify the final chapter of her career, “I think it will be a lot tougher in the playoffs.”
With an aspiring career in law enforcement, Vander Veen, along with teammate Victoria Gouge, both work for the university as security guards. “One day, I want to be a police officer. I am working security as a prelude.”
During the NHL lockout, some members of the Ottawa Senators practiced at Carleton University. Vander Veen had a humorous experience as she was working security. “I am sitting in my security uniform. (Senators captain) Daniel Alfredsson waved at me and said hi.”
An unlikely encounter with the Senators captain provided Vander Veen with a treasured experience. For her teammates and fans alike, seeing her grace the frozen perimeter of the Carleton Ice House was just as treasured.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”