As one of the most accomplished university hockey programs of the decade, Les Carabins de Montreal are currently surrounded by a group of outstanding young recruits which are poised to maintain the proud standard of excellence. Among such talents is the Alexandra Labelle, who logged a solid 19 points in her inaugural RSEQ season of 2015-16, which included a respectable four power play goals and five regular season games highlighted by multiple point performances.
Articulate and friendly, Labelle grew up in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and excelled with the Patriotes du Cegep Saint-Laurent, playing alongside the likes of Melina Roy, Audrey Belzile and Maude Trevisan. Her final season with Les Patriotes resulted in being recognized as League MVP complemented by a nod on the CEGEP First-Team All-Stars, where she was joined by future Carabins teammate Catherine Dubois (a member of Cegep Limoilou).
Earning the Most Sportsmanlike Player Award at the 2013 U18 Canadian Nationals, she would also serve as captain with Team Quebec’s U18 provincial team. Testament to her talent is the fact that she was a member of Canada’s U18 national team at the 2014 IIHF Women’s Worlds, playing alongside fellow Quebec-born players Stephanie Lalancette, Eve-Audrey Picard and Brooke Stacey. Last summer, Labelle would continue her hockey odyssey with an invitation to Hockey Canada’s Under-22/Strength and Conditioning Camp.
“Truly, it was a great experience. Every time that you go to such camps, you always learn new things. It is inspiring to be in the same venue as the best players in Canada.
Destined to follow in the footsteps of Carabins legend Ariane Barker as the sparkplug of the Carabins scoring attack, Labelle’s primary focus is giving her team a chance to win. Approaching her sophomore season with a combined sense of maturity and responsibility, Labelle opened said season with a hat trick against Concordia, including the game-winning tally in a 5-1 final. As a side note, Labelle is also the Carabins leading scorer during the squad’s first eight games.
“The second year is different because this year I am not a rookie. Last year, I was unknown, while this year, coaches look to me to make a bigger contribution. Opponents also know me, and I want to show that I can be a leader.
Having been teammates during the 2015-16 season, it marked an emotional transition, a symbolic passing of the torch, culminating with championship glory at the 2016 CIS nationals. For both Barker and Labelle, the opportunity to contribute towards Les Carabins to its second national championship represented a unique hockey crossroads.
While Barker, one of the all-time scoring leaders in Carabins history, enjoyed the rare privilege of ending her university career as a champion, it was an equally potent hallmark for Labelle, who shall aspire to achieve such heights again in the seasons to unfold.
The convincing 8-0 defeat of an ambitious University of British Columbia Thunderbirds squad (who were making their finals debut) would serve as Labelle’s coming out party. Scoring a hat trick, including the championship-clinching goal, such milestones have elevated Labelle to legendary status, a key figure in program lore.
“As a rookie, to win the national championship, you could not ask for anything better. It was so much fun. I was new on the team and I had to pinch myself to be it was real. Really, it was fantastic. I enjoyed visiting the national assembly. It was great to experience things outside of hockey. It was fun to be recognized for what we compete.”
Considering that Jessica Cormier also logged four assists in that game, such an impressive output of playmaking skill may prove to yield another special achievement in the months to come. Of note, Labelle and Cormier shall be joined by fellow Carabins stars Catherine Dubois (who was named to the 2016 CIS Nationals All-Tournament Team) and Maude Laramée on Canada’s contingent at the 2017 Winter Universiade, a bi-annual event which shall be held in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Since Les Carabins have competed in Canadian Interuniversity Sport play, there has always been at least one member of its roster which participated with Team Canada in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade.
Understandably, this remarkable foursome looks to not only extend a growing legacy for the proud program; there is also the collective goal of golden redemption. Considering that the Canadian contingent captured the first three gold medals in tournament history (2009, 2011, 2013), the final outcome of the 2015 Universiade was a visceral combination of dejection and heartbreak. Having lost their first game in tournament history, such defeat was compounded by the fact that it took place in the 2015 gold medal game against Russia.
As Labelle ponders the glorious possibilities of what the Universiade can offer, there is an underlying sense of determined optimism.
“It is so fun to share this with my teammates. We definitely have team chemistry. There is a lot of familiarity with us and leadership while should translate well on the team. We hope such team chemistry will benefit Team Canada, and especially when we return to the Carabins. Gold is our primary objective. Everything we will work for is to bring home the gold. It is a do or die situation and if we can win the gold, it will be a great moment.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”