Women’s ice hockey player Jade Iginla ’26 has established herself as one of the most impressive rising stars in the NCAA. In her first Bears season — which concluded on Feb. 18 — Jade Iginla led the team with 17 goals and 23 points, posting the top Bears scoring season since the 2006-07 season.
Last Thursday, her success was rewarded after being chosen as one of two Eastern College Athletic Conference Co-Rookies of the Year, joining two-time Olympian Tara Mounsey ’00 as one of just two players in program history to ever receive the honor. In their official announcement, the ECAC dubbed Jade Iginla a “freshman phenom.”
“Knowing what Jade contributed to the program’s success and growth this season made the honor something that I felt she very much deserved,” Head Coach Melanie Ruzzi wrote in an email to The Herald. “I am grateful to the league's coaches for recognizing her impact amongst an incredibly strong class throughout the ECAC.”
But Jade Iginla is not the only member of her family to find success in the sport. She started playing hockey at age seven in her backyard with her father, National Hockey League Hall of Famer and three-time Olympian Jarome Iginla, as well as her two brothers Tij Iginla and Joe Iginla.
“It's all I know,” Jade Iginla said of the sport. “(I) eat, breathe and sleep it. It's definitely a lot of fun … I'm very fortunate to have my whole family involved.”
Jade Iginla has proven she can go far, joining the Bears with an already impressive playing resume.
During her high school years, she played with three different programs. The most famous of which — Shattuck-St. Mary’s — has been responsible for helping launch the careers of many other hockey superstars.
She was part of the Canadian team for the U18 Women’s World Championships in 2022, which won the whole tournament. Jade Iginla helped score three points over the course of the tournament including a goal and two assists, one of which came in the championship game against the U.S.
“I think there's always so much pride in getting to represent your country, and it was (an) even better experience because we won,” Jade Iginla said.
In the fall of 2022, she joined the Bears hockey team out of a desire to compete in a highly competitive conference that boasts four of the top 10 teams in the country and six of the top 15.
“I wanted a great education and I was really excited about the opportunity to help build a program and play a role in that alongside great people,” she said.
When she came to the University, Ruzzi was excited to work with the rising star, believing Jade Iginla would fit well into the rebuilding dynamic that Brown was trying to establish.
“When piecing together our first recruiting class, we looked at players that could play at a high pace and (with) an aggressive style,” Ruzzi wrote. “Scoring is a premium in any program, so having that specific skill set was important for Brown to move up in the league.”
Ruzzi also emphasized the value of Jade Iginla’s “competitive edge.”
“Skill is one thing, but to have the drive to win every battle is why (Jade Iginla) was the perfect player to continue the grit that defines Brown women’s hockey,” she wrote.
Teammate and fellow forward Olivia Williamson ’25 was also energized by the prospect of a teammate with successes like Jade Iginla.
“It was really exciting,” Williamson said. "The focus of our program … in the coming years is … to build Brown hockey back to where it used to be.” Williamson said that bringing in a “phenomenal player” like Jade Iginla was “a big step forward for our program.”
Jade Iginla’s ability to score and create opportunities was nearly unparalleled this season. She has led the team in scoring and has had four different multi-goal games including a hat trick against Rensselaer.
She has excelled in making short-handed goals, which are scored when a team has fewer players than its opponent on the ice. Jade Iginla’s three short-handed goals led the ECAC and were fourth overall in the nation.
Williamson expressed admiration for Jade Iginla’s “hockey IQ,” calling it “unmatched.”
“I think IQ comes from watching hockey,” Jade Iginla said. “I watched a ton of hockey just growing up watching my dad and watching the NHL and then slowly watching more of the women's game as I've gotten older.”
Her passion for the game persists both on and off the ice, as she takes every opportunity to improve in the sport, Williamson said.
“She's there at the skill sessions and having meetings with the coaches,” Williamson added. “That is what it takes to truly be a successful hockey player. Anyone on the team could see it clear as day that her passion for hockey is just so high.”
“She was really able to be herself early on, and I think the coaches are a big part of that,” Williamson said.
Jade Iginla credits much of her success this season to the support of her coaches and the play of her teammates in allowing her to adapt to the new environment with ease, considering her Co-Rookie of the Year Award more than an individual achievement.
“I’m fortunate to play alongside great teammates and have coaches that support me and give me lots of opportunities,” Jade Iginla said.
Dennis Carey is a sports senior staff writer for The Brown Daily Herald. He previously contributed to the Arts and Culture section. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Atlanta sports and collecting vinyl records.