From Devastation to Exultation

Canadiennes Defender and Stingers Coach Julie Chu Experiences Both Playoff Win and Playoff Loss On Same Day

Montreal Canadiennes defender Julie Chu began her day coaching the Stingers in game 2 of their best-of-3 playoff series with the Université de Montréal Carabins before scoring two goals in the Canadiennes series-clinching win over the Toronto Furies at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Saturday, Feb. 27. Photo Louis-Charles Dumais

This past Saturday turned out to be an eventful day for Montreal Canadiennes defender and Concordia Stingers women’s hockey acting head coach Julie Chu.

Chu began her day coaching the Stingers in game 2 of their best-of-3 playoff series with the Université de Montréal Carabins at 2:30 p.m. at Concordia’s Ed Meagher Arena. Having lost the series opener 3-2 on Thursday night, the Stingers needed to win their game in order to force a decisive third contest. Unfortunately for Chu and her squad, they were unable to muster up any offense, losing 3-0.

Chu’s season may have just ended at the university level but she still had work to do with her other team, the Montreal Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. The team was also in a second game of a best of three semi-final series, against the Toronto Furies. A win by Montreal would book them a spot in the Clarkson Cup final.

The Canadiennes game was at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard with puck drop at 5 p.m. Chu left the Ed Meagher Arena at 4:55 p.m.

“I knew it was going to be very tight,” Chu said. “My parents are in town [from the United States] so they drove me. Luckily, there was no traffic. Thank god it was a Saturday. Like a little kid, I had my hockey bag in the back and I got dressed up full gear in the back seat of the car, minus my skates.”

Despite running late for game time, Chu insisted on standing by her Stingers players following their playoff elimination.

“I didn’t want to rush out of there right away,” said an exhausted Chu after the Canadiennes’ 7-1 win. “At the end of the season, you want to be able to digest and spend time with them. We had a great meeting in the locker room. That is an amazing team that I was blessed to work with.”

During the nine previous instances where a Stingers game conflicted with a Canadiennes regular season contest, Chu opted to fulfill her role behind the bench with Concordia as opposed to suiting up for the Canadiennes. However, with both teams in a playoff situation, Chu wanted to be there for both important contests.

Chu arrived during the first television timeout—-the game was broadcast on Sportsnet 360—-having missed six and a half minutes of game action. She raced from the corridor leading to the locker rooms across the ice to her team’s bench as thunderous applause erupted from the Brossard faithful.

“I couldn’t have expected that at all,” admitted Chu. “That was extremely humbling. I’m not really usually one of the players that people chant for. I don’t really score goals. I block shots and am an even-keeled person. It has never happened in my life. We have had amazing fans and amazing support all year.”

However, there did remain one small hiccup. Chu’s sticks were accidentally left in the Canadiennes locker room. With play about to resume, fellow defender Carly Hill skated across the ice to recover Chu’s sticks in time for her first shift. Without this quick action, Chu may have had to borrow Hill’s own.

“I was worried I might break the stick because she is a little shorter than me,” said Chu. “It worked out that I didn’t have to go a shift with hers.”

Chu then scored two goals and an assist in the second period. It was initially thought that Chu had scored a hat trick, however her opening score was credited to Canadiennes forward Caroline Ouellette, who deflected her shot.

“I think I did, yes,” said Ouellette, when questioned as to whether she did deflect Chu’s shot. “She got a hat thrown on the ice for her. I felt bad about it. Let’s not tell her though, she needs this right now.”

Chu was still named the game’s first star and was the subject of a “Chewey, Chewey, Chewey” chant by the fans as she skated around the ice.

“The hockey bounces that maybe weren’t at the Concordia game were here for me tonight,” said Chu. “The biggest thing on our team is that it isn’t really about points. It’s just a matter of us getting the job done and making sure that we are putting our team in front of everyone else.”

Chu, forever the team player, tried to shy away from her personal exploits and shower credit on her teammates, not only for their play on the ice, but their supportiveness with her coaching job at Concordia.

“I didn’t want to be a distraction for my team and that was a big thing,” said Chu. “My teammates are amazing. I am so lucky that they were willing to let me have that balance of having a full-time job at Concordia that sometimes takes me away from the team on a consistent basis. When I can’t make it, they still welcome me with open arms. I am truly blessed to be a part of this team.”

Chu’s season coaching the Stingers may be over, but her playing career with the Canadiennes will continue on. She and her teammates will meet the Calgary Inferno in the CWHL’s Clarkson Cup on March 13th in Ottawa.