When women’s ice hockey fans hear the name Campbell, the first player that may come to mind is Cassie Campbell, the former captain of the Canadian national team. Part of a new generation of hockey stars looking to build on the legacy of such a player is a new talent that also bears the name Campbell.
Raised in Rocanville, Saskatchewan, Jessica Campbell brings a team-first approach, complemented by leadership skills that have seen her serve as team captain at multiple levels of play, akin to Cassie’s strong legacy of leadership. Definitely one of the game’s rising stars, her disciplined level of play and ability to create scoring chances has placed her in very strong consideration for a spot on Canada’s roster at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Selected 18th overall by the Calgary Inferno during the 2014 CWHL Draft, Campbell would emerge as more than just one of the draft’s finest picks, adding another exciting dimension to the Inferno’s high powered offense. Campbell’s presence would result in the chance to participate in a unique chapter in Canadian women’s hockey history.
During the CWHL’s inaugural All-Star Game, held in December 2014 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, Campbell served as the team captain for Team White, while goaltender Charline Labonte earned the honor of the captaincy for Team Red. Adding to the prestige of such a role was the fact that Campbell was the first-ever rookie to serve as All-Star Game captain. In reflecting on the All-Star Game experience, where she was one of eight Inferno players participating, the chance to be part of history and serve as a captain have provided her with a lifetime of memories,
“It was truly an honor to be voted in as Captain for the inaugural CWHL All-Star game. I was humbled by the nomination to begin with. It really did come as a shock to be voted in amongst such a well respected and accomplished group of players. Definitely grateful and a memory I will never forget.”
Following the All-Star Game, Campbell went on a remarkable run, compiling 11 points in just 10 games played, also earning CWHL Player of the Month honors for January 2015. Complemented by four multi-point efforts, she helped propel the Calgary Inferno to their second consecutive postseason berth, winning seven of their last 10 matches.
Finishing fourth in the rookie scoring race, and tied with three other skaters for 12th overall in the race for the Angela James Bowl, Campbell assembled a solid rookie campaign. Finishing second to Brianna Decker in most goals scored by a rookie with 12, her greatest accomplishment would be leading the league in game winning goals with five.
Among her five game-winning tallies, she would set a league record by scoring in three consecutive games. Spanning from January 17 to January 31, 2015, her goals would not only beat the Toronto Furies in back-to-back games, she would score against multiple Winter Games gold medalist (and fellow CWHL All-Star Game captain) Charline Labonte to provide the Inferno with their first-ever win in Montreal.
Of the many enjoyable elements that have defined her time with the Calgary Inferno, one of the most cherished was the chance to be reunited with several teammates from the NCAA. Having starred with the Cornell Big Red, Campbell contributed 104 points, competing in back-to-back NCAA Frozen Four tournaments in 2011 and 2012. An Ivy League Second Team All-Star (2013, 2014) and ECAC Second Team All-Star (2014) selection, Campbell was also a co-captain in her senior season with Cornell.
In her first season with the Inferno, former Big Red stars such as eventual Angela James Bowl winner Rebecca Johnston and Hayleigh Cudmore were reunited with Campbell. Such familiarity followed with several more Big Red alums joining the Inferno in Campbell’s second season. Of note, Brianne Jenner, selected in the first round by the Inferno in the 2015 CWHL Draft, and Jillian Saulnier, a second round pick, extending Cornell’s growing legacy with the franchise. The chance for Campbell to continue her career with so many players that contributed to a magical time at Cornell has translated into a fun and enjoyable time,
“Definitely (we) have a fun atmosphere on our team, girls from all over the country make up the Inferno but to have the opportunity to play with fellow Cornellians again is a lot of fun. We had a tight knit group at Cornell so it is very exciting that we get to continue our hockey journeys together with the Inferno.”
Heading into this season, the Inferno roster features a remarkable blend of young and more experienced players, headlined by world class stars such as living legend Hayley Wickenshier. This year’s team may definitely be the finest in the Inferno’s young history.
With such a talented group of women assembled on one roster, the obligatory expectation of winning accompanies such talent. Approaching such expectations with a strong work ethic and a positive outlook translates into a mature confidence for Campbell. Determined to help the Inferno reach the pinnacle of an unprecedented Clarkson Cup championship, Campbell reflects on what it will take to make such dreams a reality,
“It is going to take a lot of hard work to win the Clarkson Cup, but I do believe we have what it takes in our locker room to make it happen. When you combine heart and talent amazing things can happen, I am lucky to be apart of such a special group of girls. We know what we need to do, we just need to execute our game plan and continue to strive to be our best everyday.”
One of Campbell’s greatest legacies in the game is the fact that she is among a rare group of women who have competed at Canada’s national teams at the Under-18, Under-22/Developmental and Senior levels. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she was won at least one gold medal at all three levels. Starting with the 2010 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, Campbell earned a gold medal with the U22/Developmental Team at the 2013 Meco Cup, followed by gold with the senior team at the 2014 4 Nations Cup.
As the first female from Saskatchewan to accomplish this feat, it adds to a proud hockey legacy in the province that saw Campbell help the Melville Prairie Fire compete in the Mac’s Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament, along with three straight appearances with Saskatchewan’s provincial team at the Canadian U18 national women’s championships, where she was team captain twice.
“It means the world to me to represent my country, on any level. I have been privileged to be wearing the Canadian jersey since 2007. To come out of a small town and show my community and the younger generations behind me, that anything is possible no matter where you come from, is what drives me to continue my journey. I couldn’t be more proud to be Canadian and I want all the kids from Saskatchewan to know that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.”
History has certainly been a constant in Campbell’s promising career. In April 2010, she was part of the roster that helped Canada capture its first-ever gold medal at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championships. Scoring the gold medal clinching goal and earning MVP honors by the IIHF Directorate, part of the jubilation of such a historic championship victory was the fact that Campbell and her teammates were featured on hockey cards in Upper Deck’s 2011 World of Sports card set.
Fast forward five years, and Campbell was among six members of that 2010 championship team making their debut with Canada’s senior team at the IIHF Women’s World Championships in Malmo, Sweden. As a side note, when Campbell made her debut at the IIHF Women’s World Championships in 2015, she was one of five Cornell alums on the team, joined by Jenner, Johnston, Saulnier, plus Laura Fortino and Lauriane Rougeau.
As the future represents tremendous promise for Campbell, her world-class skills and exceptional maturity ensures that she shall fulfill her destiny of hockey greatness while remaining a valued teammate on any roster that she is named to. It is a type of greatness that is poised to make her a role model for a new generation of girls competing in hockey, akin to the legacy of another Campbell in hockey, Cassie, while carving her own empowering version.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”