Providing the performance of a generation, recording a trio of shutouts at the 2022 U Sports Nationals, Alice Philbert backstopped the Concordia Stingers to its first title in more than two decades. Representing a highlight poised to propel the gregarious goaltender into program lore, a highly poignant component proved just as significant, adding a profound human element to the magnitude of the achievement.
Playing alongside her younger sister, Léonie, wearing the Concordia colors together since the 2019-20 season, one that saw Philbert post a won-loss mark of 12-4-0, along with a sparkling 1.99 GAA, it marked the continuation of a shared narrative in their competitive odysseys. Former teammates with the Richelieu Express and the acclaimed Dawson College Blues, also participating in ringette as young children, both approached Nationals with a heightened sense of purpose.
Besides focused on giving their team a chance to win, a key objective at Nationals involved honoring the memory of their grandmother. Passing away late in February, called Michou by Philbert, each game tugged at her heartstrings, the determination to win encompassing strong sentiments of devotion and tribute.
Considering that Léonie was diagnosed with a brain tumour as a child, the ability to overcome, plus the sense of support from sister and family cultivated a tremendous character, forging a sense of teamwork that remains their raison d’etre. Undoubtedly, those qualities shone through once again. With their parents in the stands throughout Nationals in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the excitement of hoisting the Golden Path trophy exemplified how hockey always been a family affair for these sensational sisters.
“We have played together in the past, winning La Coupe Dodge as teammates. To win a second major championship together, it was very emotional. Going out and winning a national championship, for me, I did it for my grandmother. My Mom and Dad came to PEI. After we won the game, they joined my sister and me on the ice. They reminded me that I won for her, and that they were very proud. It was a heartwarming moment.”
Blanking the host PEI Panthers, Saskatchewan Huskies, featuring goaltender Camryn Drever, and the OUA champion Nipissing Lakers in the gold medal game, the Stingers ended their season with an exceptional 13 consecutive victories. Recording 25 saves versus the Lakers, as Tournament MVP Stephanie Lalancette contributed a pair of goals in the 4-0 final, three straight shutout represented an exciting career first for Philbert.
Earning a well-deserved place on the Tournament All-Star Team, joined by Lalancette and team captain Audrey Belzile, Philbert remains humble over the superlative achievement. Preferring to recognize the efforts of her teammates, symbolic of the exceptional culture, Philbert’s reflections leading into the championship game also encompass the team-first approach.
“When it comes to shutouts, I had never done three in a row. For me, the achievement was not because of my own effort. With the number of players blocking shots, the team I had in front of me, which was a big reason. Three shutouts was definitely an experience that I had never enjoyed before.
Heading into the championship game, we were confident, but not overconfident. We did not want to show any swagger. Although we were prepared for the game, we were a bit stressed after the first period. When we went back into the locker room, our coach reminded us this was our last game of the season. We went back out playing for each other, realizing there would not be another.”
Considering that no national champion was crowned in 2020 and 2021, Canadian university sport decimated by the pandemic, many competitive careers reached an abrupt, unforeseen ending. As pandemic rates were in a constant state of fluctuation, an understandable sense of uncertainty loomed over the current season like a dark cloud.
With concern that a national championship may not take place for a third consecutive year, especially with conference games from January and early February cancelled, the concern loomed like a dark cloud. Employing a philosophical approach, Philbert chose to enjoy the moment, each game met with a combination of priority and appreciation. Gaining the opportunity to reach the end of her journey, experiencing a pair of postseason titles, plus a poignant win for Michou, the team first approach and strong sense of family brought a profound fulfillment for the highly grateful goaltender.
“It had been such a long time since we played at Nationals. To have the chance to go back, we were so grateful to return. We never knew if it would be our last match. You did not know if we would play again. The possibility of quarantine gave us perspective. We were ecstatic for every game “
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”