“These championships bring together truly exceptional young women and the level of hockey is spectacular,” said Manon Simard, Executive Director of CEPSUM, which will host the Canadian University Women’s Hockey Championships this week. “This is the stage just before the national selection and I hope that the public will come in large numbers to attend these matches and encourage these student-athletes. »
The University of Montreal had already requested the organization of the tournament in 2019, but the pandemic upset the initial plans, with in particular two cancellations of the championships in 2020 and 2021. “For us, it was a way of rewarding all the members of the women’s hockey program, an opportunity for them to compete for the national championship on their ice, in front of their supporters, underlines Manon Simard. And it takes on added meaning after the pandemic. »
Two teams from Quebec, the Concordia Stingers, defending champions, and the Carabins of the University of Montreal are among the favorites of these championships which bring together eight teams. The University of Toronto Varsity Blues, the Ontario champions, were seeded first ahead of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, the Western champions. The Stingers (RSEQ champions) come next ahead of the University of New Brunswick Reds (Maritime champions), Carabins, Nipissing Lakers, St. FX X-Women and Mount Royal Cougars.
The quarter-finals are played on Thursday and Friday, the semi-finals on Saturday, and the finals (fifth, third and first places) on Sunday. The Carabins will play their first game Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. against the University of New Brunswick Reds. The Stingers will have to wait until Friday at 7 p.m. before facing the Nipissing Lakers.
Automatically qualified as the host team of the tournament, the Carabins of the Université de Montréal still largely deserved their place among the eight finalists. Defeated in a decisive third game in the provincial final, fifth in the national standings, Les Bleues are regulars in the championships with two Canadian titles and six podiums.
“We knew we would be here, but it was important to prepare well and I think we did it, explained head coach Isabelle Leclaire, this week, in an interview. Overall, we had a good season, with the exception of two or three games that we dropped, at the start of the year, when three of our players were at the World University. »
“So I expect the girls to be really ready for our first game. The emotion will be at its peak, especially on our ice, in front of our crowd. Theoretically, that should be an advantage; I hope it will be and that we will play in the best way! »
Captain Jessika Boulanger recalled this week on the Carabins podcast, “We played the Reds in a preseason tournament at Concordia and it was really close. They have a very good goalkeeper [Kendra Woodland] and we will have to be patient. »
Frenchwoman Kaleigh Quennec, who is one of those competing in the last competition of her university career, for her part underlined: “It’s still very special, these championships. We are all together for the week and it is very exciting, especially in my case, knowing that I will not see these girls in my daily life again as I have for years. »
Canadian university sports honored the individual stars of the season on Wednesday, and three RSEQ players were selected in the all-star rosters. Audrey-Anne Veillette of the Université de Montréal Carabins, who scored a season-high 26 goals in the country, was named to the first team, while Emmy Fecteau of the Concordia Stingers earned a spot in the second. Carabins defender Jade Picard was named to the top rookie team.
University of New Brunswick Reds goaltender Kendra Woodland won the Brodrick Trophy as player of the year. In addition to shining with the Reds, Woodland was exceptional at the World University Games in Lake Placid in January, with three shutouts in four games, a 0.25 GAA and a .984 save percentage. Sydney Mercier (Calgary) was named Rookie of the Year, Eve Leblanc (Saint Mary’s) was honored for her community involvement and Vicky Sunohara (Toronto) was named Coach of the Year.