Together For A Cause

Montreal Stars Hockey Team Holds Breast Cancer Fundraiser

Photos Ion Etxeberria

In time for International Women’s Day, two of the top teams in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League faced off on Saturday to collect money in the fight against breast cancer.

“For all of us it’s really important because it’s the number one cancer that kills women,” said Montreal Stars forward Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux.

“I imagine it’s always a struggle for those women afflicted, so we really want to help them.”

Seventy per cent of the proceeds from the fourth annual fundraiser, a regular season matchup between the Stars and the Boston Blades, went towards the Wellness Initiative of the McGill University Health Centre’s Cedars Breast Clinic.

For Breton-Lebreux, who is the strength and conditioning coach of Concordia’s varsity teams, breast cancer has affected those closest to her so she’s happy to be a part of this edition.

“My mom had breast cancer and now she’s a survivor,” said Breton-Lebreux.

“It [hits] close to home.”

Breton-Lebreux and Stars teammate Caroline Ouellette came up with the idea for the fundraising game four years ago, and it’s been a hit for fans and players of all ages ever since.

“It’s really impressive how every year we get more and more people to come watch us,” said Breton-Lebreux, adding the last three editions have raised a combined $30,000.

The game doubled as a homecoming for Team Canada captain Ouellette, alternate captain Catherine Ward, goaltender Charline Labonté and defenceman Lauriane Rougeau, all of whom were on hand at the Étienne Desmarteau arena in Rosemont Saturday afternoon for the game.

Ouellette, a member of the Stars, took to the ice in her first game back with the team since the former Stingers women’s hockey team assistant coach helped lead Team Canada to gold at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia this past February.

“My aunt Claire is also a breast cancer survivor, so when Liz [Breton-Lebreux] and I started doing this fundraiser together we hoped to give as much back,” said Ouellette.

“With two great crowds on hand all weekend I think we achieved our goal.”

This year’s installment raised the most money out of all years past, raking in a total of over $12,000 to be donated to the Cedars Breast Clinic.

With a crowd of over 1,400 in the stands for the game, Ouellette was elated with the number of supporters in attendance—and with how much support women’s hockey received during the Olympics.

“To see that 13 million Canadians and five million Americans tuned in to watch the gold medal game [in Sochi], it’s really great,” Ouellette said.

“I’m super happy of what we’re being able to show and bring to the table for women’s hockey altogether.”

In Saturday’s game, Ouellette scored the second goal for her team—and her first of the season—sending the crowd into a frenzy. The Stars went on to beat the Boston Blades in a spirited and emotional game 4-2.

What made the game even more special for Ouellette was that she was playing alongside two former Stingers, forward Emilie Bocchia and blueliner Laurie Proulx-Duperré—two players that she helped coach last season.

“You know, I even thought about it a few times while on the bench,” said Bocchia following the game.

“I was wowed, this girl was my coach last year and now I’m her teammate, and I’m playing with an Olympian—it’s pretty awesome. I still see her as my coach though.”

With the Stars finishing their season atop the Canadian Women’s Hockey League with a 19-2-2 record, they’re headed to Markham, Ontario next week for a shot at winning the Clarkson Cup, the league championship.

“We know we’re going to practice very hard, and work even harder,” said Ouellette.

“It’s going to be a great battle; Toronto and Boston have great teams, and Calgary also.”

As for helping the Stingers reach their own goals next fall, Ouellette is leaving the door open to a return to the bench alongside coaches Les Lawton and Mike McGrath.

“I’ll be talking to [athletics director] Patrick Boivin in the next couple of weeks after the Clarkson Cup to see where we stand, what the vision is and if I’m the right fit,” said Ouellette.

“Though I’m very open to the possibility I’m still trying to figure out everything, including maybe trying to get into television.”

If she does come back, there’s at least one player who’s excited.

“I still have another year left of eligibility—I could come back too,” said Bocchia.