In a year that has proven to be one of the most memorable in the distinguished career of superstar Caroline Ouellette, the month of December may prove to be her favourite. Of note, Ouellette is extending her Hall of Fame legacy by launching the inaugural edition of the Caroline Ouellette Girls Hockey Celebration.
Being held from December 19 to 21 at the Centre Etienne-Desmarteau (home of the CWHL’s Montreal Stars), Christmas shall certainly come early for the participants. Open to girls from the ages of 7 to 13, it is part of Ouellette’s sparkling legacy as a hockey humanitarian to give back to the community.
During 2014, Ouellette already engaged in several momentous causes in which she brought awareness to some notable causes while attempting to bring betterment. Along with teammate Genevieve Lacasse, the two engaged in a trek to the North Pole, paying tribute to Canada’s soldiers, whose countless sacrifices and occasional struggles to re-adjust to the real world are sometimes overlooked.
Ouellette has also donated her time to raising money for the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team, along with the Montreal version of Hockey Helps the Homeless. In addition, Ouellette joined Julie Chu at an instructional camp in California for girls, co-hosted by the Los Angeles Kings.
The time in California would see Ouellette attend two of the most memorable sporting events this year. Of note, she attended a San Francisco Giants game at Pacific Bell Park which saw Tim Lincecum throw him a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres for the second time in his career.
Lincecum became only the second pitcher ever to no-hit the same team twice. There is no question that Ouellette’s attendance was likely a good-luck charm. In addition, Ouellette was in attendance when the LA Kings captured their second Stanley Cup in franchise history.
No stranger to victory herself, Ouellette is devoted to sharing her positive experiences with the next generation of women’s hockey. Meant to be a positive hockey experience that shall bring empowerment and encouragement for the young registrants, the Girls Hockey Celebration shall consist of more than just workshops, play and practice time. It is a special opportunity to take the ice with the likes of All-World players and remarkable ambassadors for the game such as goaltenders Charline Labonte and Kim St. Pierre.
Lauriane Rougeau, a former All-America defender with Cornell University and the Stars first round pick in the 2013 CWHL Draft and a teammate of Ouellette at Sochi is one of hockey’s brightest stars. Of note, she shall also participate, sharing her expertise with aspiring blueliners. Along with Ouellette, she will be joined by Julie Chu, the first woman to win three consecutive Clarkson Cups.
The opportunity to be surrounded by such accomplished hockey heroines shall be complemented by an autograph and photo session. An added bonus includes tickets to a Montreal Stars demonstration game. As a side note, the coaches of registrants can also register for an on-ice session.
Based on the range of the ages of participants, there shall be novice, atom and peewee divisions. Of note, a tournament will be held for all of the three divisions. Players who are also novices to the game are also invited to take part in Learn to Skate and/or Try Hockey sessions as an introduction.
Of note, this is Ouellette’s second effort to develop the female game this year. Her first development initiative took place in collaboration with Hockey Québec, as the Female Hockey Caravan was launched. With its inaugural launch in September 2014, it was attended by over 80 players from Novice to Peewee levels in Lac Saint-Louis, Quebec.
Surprisingly, the growth of women’s hockey in Canada over the last decade has seen sparse progress in Quebec. While more than 25,000 girls have represented said growth, Quebec only accounts for less than five per cent of that number.
Taking into account the accomplished talent from Quebec that participates in women’s hockey, it is an alarmingly low number. In Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the McGill Martlets and the Montreal Carabins are among the most dominant programs of the last five years.
In the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Quebec-born players such as Ann-Sophie Bettez and Cathy Chartrand of the Montreal Stars were among the award winners at the 2014 edition of the CWHL Awards. During the 2013-14 CWHL season, Quebec-born players such as Emmanuelle Blais, Vinny Davidson and Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux all logged their 100th career points in CWHL play.
Even more significant was the highly accomplished women born in Quebec that participated on Canada’s entry at Sochi (Melodie Daoust, Charline Labonte, Ouellette, Lauriane Rougeau and Catherine Ward). As a side note, the all-time winningest goalie in IIHF women’s hockey is Kim St. Pierre, another legendary player born in Quebec.
The legacy of Quebec women in the game is a legacy worth preserving and developing. It is a goal that Ouellette is very passionate about making a reality as the game and its values have had such a positive influence on her remarkable life.
There is no question that her sparkling career has helped to extend said legacy. One day, she shall be destined to become as significant and important to hockey in Montreal such as Maurice Richard or Jean Beliveau. A women’s hockey hero whose exemplary career has taken on a life of its own, defining an era and becoming nothing short of mythical, revered for what she represents, helping to grow the female game.
A registration form can be obtained by sending an email to [email protected]