The story of hockey at Carleton College and University is one of continued enthusiasm.
Over the years, Carleton's hockey team took many forms and student interest remained persistent. The game at Carleton thrived in intramural leagues as well as the intercollegiate level and remains an unbroken tradition from the College's opening in 1946 to today.
Hockey at Carleton College began in November of 1946 with an interfaculty game between Arts and the "Combines": a team of students from Commerce, Journalism, and Engineering. Scouts were present to pick players to form a representative college team. With no intercollegiate league that winter, St. Patrick's College and Carleton played a series of exhibition games place prior to Christmas. With this, Carleton had its first taste of intercollegiate hockey.
By 1947, the increasing interest in hockey at Carleton compelled H. S. Southam to donate $1,500 to construct and equip an outdoor hockey rink. Located behind Carleton College, it was rarely used for league matches by the Ravens. Instead, it provided players with a space to develop their skills through regular practice and the College's interfaculty hockey program. Frequent practice allowed players to perform better in the intercollegiate league. It also served as a community rink. The rink thus created greater interest in hockey and stronger ties to the game at Carleton.
Under the leadership and coaching of former Ottawa Senator Goalie Bill Beveridge, the Carleton Ravens completed their first season of intercollegiate hockey in 1947-1948. The Intermediate Intercollegiate Hockey Association consisted of a number of teams from Eastern Ontario and Quebec. Hockey intensified local rivalries as the Carleton was matched up against University of Ottawa and St. Patrick's College. With very few exceptions, the majority of home games were primarily played at the Ottawa Auditorium from the late 1940s until its closing in 1967. The Auditorium was located at O'Connor and Arglye where Ottawa's Centretown YMCA currently stands.
Early team members, Clint Cowen and Frank Lombardo, played a significant role in the hockey program at Carleton. Not only were both men exceptional Ravens players, they played a significant role in the team's organization and direction. For their efforts, both Cowen and Lombardo were named athlete of the year in 1946-1947 and 1947-1948 respectively. For a college known more for its basketball and football success, it was unique for hockey players to win this award at Carleton.
The mid to late 1950's was a difficult time for university hockey both at Carleton and within Eastern Ontario. A strong and competitive intramural league continued and a team representing Carleton was created to compete in exhibition games. These were normally against St. Patrick's College or the University of Ottawa. Although league competition had ceased, hockey was still vibrant and alive at the core of campus life and the competitive intramural league.
Carleton's hockey team also played infrequent – though not insignificant – games against Colleges from Upstate New York in the 1950s and 1960s. Clarkson Tech and St. Lawrence College often faced off against the Ravens in a series of pre-season warm up matches that usually occurred immediately before or after the Christmas break. These games in Potsdam and Canton, New York allowed Carleton to play in front of 2,000-4,000 spectators, and against strong competition. In 1955, Carleton also had the opportunity to match-up against defending NCAA champions Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York. This game and the fifteen years of regular excursions to New York continued to be a positive experience for the Ravens, providing them with an opportunity for team building and a chance to test their skills in front of other talented players and larger crowds.
In the early 1960's, renewed interest in hockey revived the team, and student Bill Mahoney was named coach. With an increased turnout at tryouts from frosh, the Raven's future looked bright. In the 1960-1961 season, the Ravens entered a city league and were crowned league champions, defeating St. Patrick's College twice throughout the season and again in the city championship final game. In 1962, after Carleton has rejoined the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Hockey Conference, the Ravens hired Frank Chiarelli as coach - a 31 year old high school teacher and St. Patrick's graduate. Under Chiarelli's leadership, the Ravens became a competitive team during the 1960's. Between 1965 and 1971 the Ravens won an impressive twenty-nine games.
The Ravens ended their 1970-71 season at first place - their most successful season yet. Ending the season at 10-3-2, Carleton surpassed second place Queen's University by three wins. Though losing the playoffs, this season was a milestone. Terry McCarthy was selected as Athlete of the Year in 1971. He and Coach Bryan Kealey were named to the OUAA first all-star team. During these peak years, the Ravens would average about 1,200-1,400 fans per game.
1974 was the last season in which Carleton would play varsity intercollegiate hockey for a number of decades when the hockey team was cut from the athletics budget. Though an athletic users' committee survey showed hockey as ranked second in student interest in 1976, no funding was available for Ravens intercollegiate hockey from 1974-2006. Despite the absence of a league team, Carleton's hockey tradition survived as the continued interest channelled into a strong intramural program. The rise of intramural leagues in the 1970s also saw the development of a women's hockey at Carleton.
Carleton University re-established a hockey team in September, 2006. An 18-game exhibition was played to prepare for the 2007-08 season when the Ravens formally joined the Ontario University Athletics. In the OUA, Carleton won 12 games and qualified for post season play. Ultimately, they lost to more experienced McGill in the best of 3 series for the OUA East title, but this was an excellent re-start for the Varsity team. Now, with a state-of-the-art rink on campus and a good core of skilled players, the future is bright once again for hockey at Carleton University.