Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Stephanie Ciampa earns unique distinction as last overall selection in 2014 CWHL Draft

Hailing from Peabody, Massachusetts, goaltender Stephanie Ciampa earned the unique distinction of being the final player selected in the 2014 CWHL Draft. Selected by the hometown Boston Blades, the squad already features the likes of goaltenders such as Genevieve Lacasse, Molly Schaus and Brittany Ott, who started the championship game of the 2014 Clarkson Cup.

Coincidentally, it marks the second consecutive season that Boston had the last pick overall. Adding to that is the fact that Boston selected a goaltender with their last pick in the 2013 CWHL Draft. Zoe Zisis, the first (and only) player in CWHL history to have both initials commence with a Z, was the pick in question. Of note, she would see some ice time, in a back-up role to Ott.

Another unique factor about Ciampa is the fact that she was the only player from the Mercyhurst Lakers selected in the 2014 edition of the draft. Christine Bestland, who graduated as the second all-time leading scorer in program history did not register for the draft. As a side note, Ciampa would graduate from Mercyhurst with a major in psychology, while elected as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Board.

In the nascent history of the CWHL Draft, Mercyhurst has produced a remarkable amount of players selected in the first round. A veritable who’s who of hockey, Mercyhurst alumnae such as Meghan Agosta-Marciano, Vicki Bendus, Bailey Bram, Jess Jones, Hillary Pattenden and Jesse Scanzano have been highly touted draft prospects.

Of note, Ciampa spent her first three seasons in a backup capacity to Pattenden. Taking into account that Pattenden was the first overall selection in the 2012 CWHL Draft, the fact that Ciampa was selected last overall in 2014 is ironic. In three seasons as a backup to Pattenden, she compiled an undefeated record, winning five contests.

Inheriting the starter’s role from Pattenden in the autumn of 2013, she proved up to the task as her patience paid off. Compiling a remarkable win-loss mark of 20-2-0, it was complemented by a sparkling 1.55 goals against average and a solid .931 save percentage. In addition, Ciampa logged four shutouts in the first nine games of the 2012-13 campaign.

The only loss in the regular season came to College Hockey America conference rival Robert Morris. Helping Mercyhurst advance to the NCAA Final Four, her final career game had another unique linkage to Boston. Playing against the Boston Univeristy Terriers, a familiar face was standing between the pipes for the opposing net. Playing her club hockey as a teenager with Assabet Valley, one of her teammates was Kerrin Sperry. Of note, Sperry (who was in her junior season) was the starting goaltender, bringing Ciampa’s career full circle.

Although Ciampa did not play competitively during the 2013-14 campaign, she donated her time as an assistant coach in youth hockey, gaining a new perspective on the game. From planning and running practices to dealing with parents and helping establish important skills with players, her experience as a player made her an invaluable mentor.

Like many other players, it is not uncommon to focus on other aspects of life after competitive play, especially with emphasis on career. Her teamwork skills have served her well as an Assistant Program Director for a firm that offers numerous services for individuals living with disabilities and/or coping with other life challenges.

In the National Football League draft, the player selected last overall is known as Mr Irrelevant. Perhaps in the CWHL, the last pick overall would be best identified as Miss Underrated. Taking into account Ciampa’s leadership skills, her patience and underdog status, she has proven more than once the ability to rise to the occasion with great maturity and dignity. 

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