Rattray ready for more
by Lucas Aykroyd|13 DEC 2021
Jamie Lee Rattray, who played an important role when Canada won home-ice gold at the 2021 Women's Worlds, hopes to triumph next at the Beijing Olympics.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
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For Jamie Lee Rattray, enjoying a home-cooked meal with her parents, David and Melodie, was one of the perks of the Capital City Challenge. Yet the unusual tournament (26 November to 1 December) in Ottawa – pitting the Canadian Olympic women’s team versus three squads of top U17 prospects – will feel even more satisfying if the gritty veteran can use it as a springboard to her first Olympic gold at the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

In August in Calgary, Rattray, 29, distinguished herself by tying Natalie Spooner for the second-most goals (four) in Canada’s first Women’s Worlds gold medal run since 2012. More notably yet, she accomplished that feat while averaging just 9:21 in ice time as a thirteenth forward. Rattray – the winner of the 2014 Patty Kazmaier Award with NCAA champion Clarkson and the 2018 CWHL MVP award with the champion Markham Thunder – scored three times against the archrival Americans, including the equalizer in the 3-2 gold-medal overtime win.

The former psychology major, who grew up loving Mario Lemieux and touch football, is nothing if not diverse. Whether she’s advocating for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA), leading the 2017 Ball Hockey World Championship in scoring, or inspiring other young Indigenous players with M├ętis heritage, she carries herself with distinction.

IIHF.com caught up with Rattray partway through the Capital City Challenge, where she totalled two assists in four games en route to a fourth-place finish.

How are you enjoying this tournament?

I think for us, it’s good to get a lot of games. Especially in women’s hockey, we, over the last two years, haven’t had a ton of games. So it’s been really nice. This month, we’ve had almost like a regular schedule in the regular season. Obviously it’s different playing against the boys, and we’ve had to adapt our game, but it’s been a lot of fun.

It’s definitely something we probably wouldn’t have done during a normal centralization year. But I think it’s been neat. You know, we’re kind of helping them get prepared and they’re helping us. The cool thing is, they’ve got to adapt to the way we play, and we’ve got adapt to how they play. I think it’s been a good challenge for us, and so far, so it’s been pretty fun. They’re pretty skilled.
Jamie Lee Rattray (#47) competes against Team Canada Black U17 players at the 2021 Capital City Challenge in Ottawa.
photo: Matthew Murnaghan / Hockey Canada
Preparation-wise, you’re getting different looks versus U17 male prospects than you would from the Americans, or the Finns or the Swiss. What do you think are the biggest benefits here?

It’s the speed of the game. It’s faster. They’re a lot of hot young prospects, right? So they’re going to be fast and skilled. And it forces us to make decisions a little faster. They’ve also got longer sticks and are a little bit bigger. So we have a little bit less room out there. It really benefits us in a lot of ways. As a player out there, I feel like it forces me to make the right decisions a little quicker, which is a good challenge. It’s overall been really good.

And it’s also another milestone in Ottawa women’s hockey history. You were pretty busy with Clarkson back in 2013, but do you have any memories associated with the 2013 Women’s Worlds here?

Yeah. I was at school at the time, but I came back over the border to watch some of the games. I even remember hearing from family and friends back home that it was super-awesome having Ottawa host. It was really busy throughout the week with a lot of fans. Talking to the girls now that were there on that team, they said it was one of the best Worlds they’ve been a part of. Awesome to see that in my hometown.

At this event, you’ve played with Blayre Turnbull. How are you enjoying that chemistry?

Awesome. I mean, she’s a pretty easy player to play with. I think every team needs a Blayre Turnbull. She’s good everywhere. She’s good defensively, she’s good offensively. She does all the right things. And she’s also tough, right? I really enjoy playing with her. You know, we have a little bit of chemistry there. We’ve played together quite a bit over over our careers with Hockey Canada. She does everything right. I know exactly where she’s going to be. And I know if anything happens on the ice, she’s definitely gonna have my back, which is always nice.

Speaking of being tough, what do you think about the remarkable comeback Blayre’s made since getting injured in the gold-medal victory celebrations in Calgary?

Huge kudos to her. I think, you know, she put a lot of hard work in behind the scenes. As a teammate, I think you want someone like that. Every day she showed up to work, no matter what that meant, on her road back. It’s pretty inspiring to see as a teammate. Honestly, she’s a big, big part of this team, and she’s a great leader for us. It’s definitely better having her back on the bench and back in the dressing room full-time. I think she still made her presence known when she wasn’t in the lineup, but it’s always more beneficial to have her in the dressing room and on the ice.

For yourself personally, what does it mean to be part of centralization after not being part of the cycle leading up to 2018?

It means a lot to me. It’s been a long road for me in my career with Hockey Canada. I’ve been to a quite a few World Championships and part of a lot of teams. But this means a lot. I’m kind of an older player for being centralized for the first time. It’s a new experience, being together with the team all year. But I’m just trying to go to work every day and do whatever I can to make an impact on this group and help in whatever way I can. I’m enjoying every single day, because it’s definitely really special to me.

How do you feel your role and your comfort level has changed since your first Women’s Worlds back in Malmo in 2015?

Having more experience really helps. Looking back at myself back in 2015, I was a young kid who probably didn’t know where I fit in. You’re just trying to find your way on the team, and just really excited to be part of the team, first of all. Now I know where I can make my biggest impact and I’m confident in the role I can play as a person on and off the ice. That just comes with experience and being around the program for so long. I’m really proud of how far I’ve come in terms of the confidence level and preparation in terms of my own stuff. I’ve really enjoyed the ride.

Your team was just in Finland for a three-game series with their national team. What did that trip do for you from a team-bonding standpoint?

We’ve definitely been on the road a long time now, almost a month. But that trip to Finland was great, It really taught us what we individually want to do on on trips like that in terms of jet lag planning and that kind of stuff. Everyone learned what works for them and what works as a team. It also was a big team bonding trip, going through that travel together. I think that brings a group closer together as well.

We played three great games against Finland, and I thought we played very, very well over there. It’s great to get some confidence out of that, too, when you come back home and play the Americans. Finland’s a great team over there and it was a good challenge for us. We handled it really well, even though it was a big time change and a lot of travel. I was proud of the group and how we responded.

Your national team equipment manager, Serge LeBlanc, just hit 100 international games. What are your thoughts on Serge?

Serge has been around a while. He’s a big part – like every staff member – of this group. Me and Serge have some routines we do before the game, and I like to include the staff as much as we can on game days. He’s a pleasure to be around at the rink. You know, he’s at the rink more than anyone, him and “Gumby” [fellow equipment manager Alanna Goulden]. It’s always a pleasure to walk into the rink when he has a big smile on his face and a big hello. It’s nice energy to have every single day.
Having gone through that Women’s Worlds victory in Calgary, what’s your perspective on what Troy Ryan has done to get the best out of you guys as a head coach?

I’ve never had such a great coach. He’s such a people person. He knows how to handle the group and how to attack every situation. His hockey mind is amazing, right? When he talks X’s and O’s, it’s pretty amazing to listen to.

But also, he understands the human side of hockey, how to bring the group together, what the group needs at different times. And he’s an easy guy to chat with if you ever need anything. You feel he’s very approachable in terms of that. So he’s been a great, great leader for this group. I think it really starts with him and his demeanor. He’s a calm presence back there, which really helps us. He’s been a pretty amazing part of this group, for sure.

You have that ability to play up and down the lineup in different situations. What’s the mindset that you’ve adopted to be successful, even when you’re playing limited minutes?

Honestly, I mean, this is the national team. Everyone’s separated by so little. I think it’s just important to play a role. Whatever you’re asked to do, right? That’s kind of how I’ve approached every single day. I really enjoy being a part of this group. Wherever they need me to make an impact, whether that’s five minutes or 30 minutes, whatever they need me to do, I think I’ll be able to play that role. I just try to show up to work every day and put the work in. and, you know, wherever I’m asked to be, I’ll show up. So that’s kind of my mindset.

Something that’s also come to the forefront recently is the impact that players with Indigenous heritage are having with the national program. As well as yourself, Jocelyne Larocque and Victoria Bach are making an impact in different ways. How important is it to you to represent and inspire young people in Indigenous communities?

I think it’s really important. Diversity is a huge thing, and it shows that there’s more diversity in the game now. And like you said, with Bacher and Joc, we’re trying to be role models at the same time that we’re part of this team. So I think it’s just really important to represent the game well.

In September, the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress approved a proposal to hold Women’s Worlds in Olympic years for the first time ever. What do you think about having that tournament down the road in August?

It’s awesome. You know, I obviously would have liked it a little earlier, but I think the more hockey, the better. And I think it’ll help with the development too. There’s a big gap after Olympic years, and we didn’t have a World Championship maybe until April in the past. So I think it’ll just be great. We can ride the momentum from the Olympics. We know that usually women’s hockey is one of the most watched events at the Olympics, and then we can use that momentum into August. I think you saw it too, when the Women’s Worlds was just on in the summer. We got a lot of viewership and a lot of love on social media, at least from what I saw. So this is just another opportunity to show off our game.

Of course, it’s one tournament at a time, and the Olympics are the top priority. So what do you think of the new Olympic uniforms?

I love them. We got a chance to see them in person a couple months ago, and they’re awesome. And they look even better when you’ve got full gear on. Nike’s always done a really good job of designing great jerseys. I think they’re simple and to the point, and I love the red with the black leaf. It’s something different that we haven’t seen before. It’s gonna be pretty awesome.

How excited are you when you think about the possibility of putting that uniform on in Beijing?

It’s crazy to think about. Normally I just try to take it day by day, and sometimes you’ve got to take a step back. It’s pretty cool what we have going on here and the journey that we’re on. So it would mean everything to me – with this long journey that I’ve had with Hockey Canada – to put on that Olympic jersey. We’ve got a pretty special group here. I’m just going to work every single day. That’s all I can really do.