Julie Chu Part of Two Playoff Series Wins in One Day
Four-Time Olympic Medalist Swept Series With Both Concordia Stingers and Les Canadiennes
When Julie Chu began her whirlwind of a hockey season this past September, as both head coach of the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey program and defender for Les Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, she could never have envisioned winning two playoff series in one single weekend.
“It’s huge,” said Chu after helping Les Canadiennes beat the Brampton Thunder 5-1 to advance to the Clarkson Cup final. “Right now, I’m really fortunate in my life to be able to coach an amazing team at Concordia as well as still be a part of Les Canadiennes. It’s been a real special journey and a real special year.”
Her day began with Concordia as they looked to eliminate the Université de Montréal Carabins in their best-of-three Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec semi-final series. After a thrilling 6-2 win Thursday night on the road, the Stingers knew a home win against the defending U Sports champions would mean a spot in the finals.
The team responded with a 3-2 win in a game marked by highs, lows and much dramatics. Chu still had the game on her mind some five hours after the horn had sounded.
“That was a gritty, tough, hard-fought win,” she said. “It wasn’t easy. Montreal played really well today. Our players had to step up and come up big at different moments.”
Chu credited the resiliency of her team and their perseverance through adversity throughout the pivotal game. She also heaped high praise on Stingers offensive star Claudia Dubois, who scored two goals including the game winner on Saturday, as well as netminder Katherine Purchase, for their strong play and leadership.
Caroline Ouellette, who was behind the bench as part of the Stingers coaching staff, deflected the praise rather onto Chu for her hard work.
“Julie has worked so hard to prepare the team and make them believe that they can win,” said Ouellette. “It’s something to be really proud of. We are going to nationals. I truly believe we have the team to do very well there.”
“I’m at the point in my life where my primary commitment is to Concordia. They’re my job and the ones I am focusing on. It’s a big deal to win an RSEQ championship.” — Julie Chu.
The wins against the Carabins, who had won the national title last season, marked the first time since 2006 that the Stingers women’s hockey team had won a playoff game.
The Stingers are getting set to battle the McGill Martlets in the RSEQ finals next weekend.
Regardless of the outcome in this three-game series, the Stingers are guaranteed a spot in the U Sports Women’s Hockey Championships beginning March 16th in Napanee, Ontario. Thanks to Montreal’s championship win last year, the RSEQ has earned two berths into the tournament. It will be the Stingers first appearance at the event since the 2004-2005 season.
“We know that there is a lot of hockey,” said Chu. “Our preparation and focus is going to be similar to this past week. We want to make sure that on Thursday, we are going to be ready. Nationals are a long ways away.”
Once the game wrapped up just before 4:00 p.m at the Ed Meagher Arena, Chu quickly made her way to the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, ahead of a 5:45 p.m puck drop in game two of the Clarkson Cup semi-final playoff series against the Brampton Thunder.
Unlike during a similar situation faced with last season, she made it well in advance of puck-drop. Chu was coaching the Stingers at Concordia while Les Canadiennes were facing off with the Toronto Furies in their semi-final playoff series in Brossard. Chu made it to the arena midway through the first period and would later collect three points in the win.
She remembered dressing in the backseat of her father’s car on her way to the arena. Chu was thankful she did not have to rush this time around.
“The timing worked out really well,” said Chu. “It’s better to have the flow and be able to come at the start of the game.”
On this day, Chu and Les Canadiennes would beat the Thunder 5-1 and advance to the Clarkson Cup final, a feat Chu relished in after the game.
“It’s not easy to get to the Clarkson Cup,” she said. “Our league is really strong and tough. This was going to be a battle of the weekend to earn our right to be in the final. We were really happy to achieve that.”
It is still unsure, however, whether or not Chu will indeed play in the Clarkson Cup final next Sunday in Ottawa. The potential third game of the RSEQ finals will be played on that same day in the Montreal area. As she has done all season, Chu vowed to be by her Stingers’ side.
“Hopefully, we don’t get into that situation and we win in two,” said Chu. “I’m at the point in my life where my primary commitment is to Concordia. They’re my job and the ones I am focusing on. It’s a big deal to win an RSEQ championship.”
She admitted that such a decision would be “one of those really tough life choices”, but will nevertheless show her support and love towards Les Canadiennes in the eventuality she cannot play.
Chu is grateful of the support she receives from the Stingers coaching staff, Canadiennes organization and her loved ones. Her father Wah flew in early Saturday from the United States to be with his daughter during both critical playoff games. Chu called her father “a road warrior”, given that he had just returned home Friday from a week-long trip to Europe before jet setting to Montreal.
“I’m really fortunate of the life I get to lead right now and the people around me that support and care about me.”
Correction: The photo credit read Louis-Philippe Dumais, it should have read Louis-Charles Dumais. The Link regrets the error.