To Bee a Star
Former Stinger Women’s Hockey Players Begin New Careers As Members of the Montreal Stars
Feb. 28 was the last day of the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey league campaign. The team lost their playoff game to the Université de Montréal Carabins and exited the post-season festivities. For some of those Stingers, it was the curtain call for their hockey careers as they ventured off into new passions, but not for Audrey Morand and Alyssa Sherrard.
Nearly seven months removed from their final Canadian Interuniversity Sport game, Morand and Sherrard were waiting for their names to be selected in the annual Canadian Women’s Hockey League draft.
“I was kind of nervous in knowing when I was going to be selected, so when the day came I was really excited,” Sherrard said.
Sherrard did have to wait, but the Montreal Stars eventually selected her in the fifth round. The Stars also took her teammate Morand two rounds later.
The team had contacted both players about playing for them prior to the draft, and the two former Stingers couldn’t be happier about where they ended up.
“Playing for the Montreal Stars was really a big objective of mine,” said Morand.
“When I moved to Montreal, the Stars were my next step,” Sherrard said. “[Getting drafted] was the debut of my next step in my career and I’ve made it to the highest level that I could play.”
Morand and Sherrard were excited about the prospect of being drafted to the same team and continuing their hockey careers as teammates.
“I’m familiar with her playing and we’ve played pretty much every year at Concordia together, she was my line mate,” Sherrard said. “It’s just exciting to continue this chapter with her.
“It’s fun to go through this together, it’s less intimidating to have someone you know better than others when you start,” Morand added.
At the Complexe Sportif Bell, Morand and Sherrard are among the new blood joining current players through fitness tests and drills, all in the hopes of finding a spot on the team ahead of their upcoming season.
With a new league comes a new challenge, and there are notable differences for players making the jump from university hockey to the CWHL.
“The level of maturity, physical maturity, the experience of all the players [are all different],” said Stars head coach Dany Brunet when asked about the major differences between university and professional leagues.
It’s a change that Morand and Sherrard have noticed as well.
“I think the women are stronger, bigger, and have more experience, so it’ll make a difference,” Morand said.
Some of their teammates are highly experienced veterans and winners on the biggest stage. Forward Marie-Philip Poulin spent time with the Stars before winning two Olympic gold medals for Team Canada’s women’s hockey team in 2010 and 2014. She had spent the last four years playing hockey at Boston University before being re-drafted by the Stars.
Olympians Caroline Ouellette and Julie Chu are also on the team, and both have Concordia ties. Ouellette won four gold medals for Team Canada and is about to enter her seventh season with the Stars. Ouellette was once both a player and an assistant coach for the Stingers women’s hockey team.
Chu has three Olympic silver medals representing the American team and in addition to playing with the Stars, she will take over as co-head coach of the Stingers women’s hockey team after head coach Les Lawton took a medical leave of absence.
“We’re playing in the CWHL with the top players of the world,” Sherrard said. “When I was younger, I never thought in a million years [that] I’d be playing with them.”
“Caroline and Julie always had high intensity every time they were on the ice, whether it was practice, a game or a demonstration,” said Morand.
“[Chu] is not only a good player but a good coach,” continued Sherrard. “She knows how to pinpoint the things you need to work on and tell you exactly what you need to know to make you a better player.”
Looking forward to the rest of training camp, the former Stingers turned Stars are excited about the upcoming season, and making an impact on the CWHL.
“I’m just looking forward to playing with these girls and finding my spot on the team,” Sherrard said. “I’m excited to explore what other type of talents that I have and to put it all on the ice.”
“It’s a nice continuity to my career after university,” Morand added.