A Net Gain

Stingers Women’s Hockey Add Size, Skill and a Familiar Name to the Roster

  • The Stingers signed seven recruits to make up for the departure of several veterans such as alternate captain Mary-Jane Roper. Photo Shaun Michaud

With four veterans moving on from the team this year, Concordia’s women’s hockey team will be missing a large chunk of the leadership core that helped lead the Stingers to their first playoff appearance in three seasons.

Stingers head coach Les Lawton hopes the addition of seven new recruits for the upcoming 2014-2015 season will make up for that loss.

“We all really like where we are,” said Lawton.

“Throughout most of last season we competed hard most games, and this coming year will be even better.”

Six of the seven new players are local, while goaltender Katherine Purchase is from Nova Scotia.

Purchase, 17, led the Metro Boston Pizza team to the Nova Scotia Female Midget AAA Hockey League finals this past season. She was 9-1-1 during the regular season with five shutouts, while her goals-against average was a staggering 0.88.

For Stingers starting goaltender Carolanne Lavoie-Pilon, who is coming off her fourth season with the team, having healthy competition between her, Purchase and fellow goaltenders Briar Bache and Frederike Berger-Lebel is part of the process.

“Each year there will be new goalies and it’s all part of the game,” said Lavoie-Pilon.

“We each have to work really hard, despite knowing it’s a positive competition.”

Lavoie-Pilon adds that she may hang up her skates after this upcoming season. She is finishing her bachelor’s degree in marketing, and while she is uncertain about pursuing a master’s degree, she is certain about wanting to end her university hockey career positively.

“Next year will likely be my last year so I want to finish in a big way,” said Lavoie-Pilon.

“I think that we’ll certainly have the depth and our defence will be really good.”

Last year’s team was noticeably on the shorter side, an issue Lawton addressed with teh signing of forwards Cassiel Lalande-Lajeunesse from the John Abbott Islanders and Suzie Leblanc-Sauriol, who played CEGEP hockey for the Lionel-Groulx Nordiques.

Lalande-Lajeunesse, listed at 6-1, finished the past season with six goals and 20 points in 18 games for John Abbott. Leblanc-Sauriol, who stands 5-11, led the Nordiques in points with 16 in 20 games last season.

“In this league, and especially this conference, you have to have goal-scoring and you have to have size,” said Lawton.

“I believe with these signings we’ve improved on both those key aspects.”

One notable move was the signing of Audrey-Anne Allard, the younger sister of defenseman Marie-Joëlle Allard.

The Allard sisters, from Victoriaville, will be on the same team for the first time since they played for CEGEP Limoilou in the 2012-2013 season. In their two years playing together on the same defensive pairing, they helped Limoilou win two provincial Division 1 championships.

“It was just so amazing to play back then together, and now to be reunited again as Stingers,” said the elder Allard.

“I’m sure that we will both enjoy this experience all over again for the next few years.”

While there’s no guarantee she’ll be paired with her sister on the Stingers, Marie-Joëlle, 21, says she’s just glad to have the chance again, and that she’ll let assistant coach Mike McGrath take charge of whom they’ll play alongside.

“I’m very lucky to have her [around] and I’m very thankful for the coaches that helped bring her onto the team,” said Marie-Joëlle.

“She has helped me a lot in CEGEP and we have been training together since I was 15 years old so this isn’t something new, but I just can’t wait to play on the same team again next year.”

Other recruits include Dawson Lady Blues forward Devon Thompson and defenceman Veronique Boudreau, and Édouard-Montpetit defenceman Dominique Gagnon-Goyette.

They’ll have big shoes to fill as next season the Stingers will be without captain Erin Lally, alternates Mary-Jane Roper and Jaymee Shell, and defenceman Gabrielle Meilleur.

“With the leadership that we lost, it’s hard to replace,” said Lawton.

“We’ll only have two fourth-year players, which only means the younger players will have a bigger role next season.”

Lawton says the Stingers, who are coming off a fourth-place finish in the five-team Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec conference with a 5-15 record, will have a lot of positives to build on from last season.

“We’ve got a great group of girls here who keep gaining more and more experience,” he said.

“We’ve added some strong coaching [with McGrath] and a lot of the girls who really like to buy into our off-ice conditioning program.

“Our skill and depth definitely looks better this year.”

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