On February 7, 2015, Caroline Ouellette added to a Hall of Fame worthy resume with another remarkable milestone. Just 51 seconds into the second period of a road-game against the Brampton Thunder, Ouellette and Ann-Sophie Bettez (the 2014 Angela James Bowl winner) logged assists on a goal scored by Noemie Marin.
With the assist, Ouellette logged career point 235, surpassing Jayna Hefford as the CWHL’s all-time leading scorer. Coincidentally, Hefford played over a decade for the Brampton Thunder and had many of her own memorable performances in front of the Brampton faithful.
Not only did Marin’s goal provide the Stars with their first lead of the game, it would be part of a titanic three-point performance by Ouellette. Before the period would expire, Ouellette and Bettez would team up with Marin again as she scored her third goal of the game for the 3-1 advantage.
While Brampton’s Jess Jones and Lindsay Vine would score goals in the third period to tie the score, it was only appropriate the Ouellette logged the game winning goal with 2:30 remaining in the game. For the Brampton fans in attendance, it was the opportunity to be part of another amazing chapter in Canadian women’s hockey history.
Marin would nab First Star of the Game honors, while Ouellette was recognized with the game’s Second Star nod. Brampton’s Lindsay Vine, having played 11 years of female pro hockey, was honored as the Third Star. As a side note, Brampton goalie Liz Knox was between the pipes during this historic game.
The following day, Montreal and Brampton faced off again with a jubilant Ouellette building on her superlative performance from the night prior. While Montreal rookie Kim Deschenes gave Montreal the 1-0 lead after one period of play, Ouellette would find the back of the Brampton net at the 13:01 mark of the second. As a side note, Liz Knox was once again between the pipes for a beleaguered Brampton squad.
Ouellette continued her scoring magic in the third period as she assisted on a goal by Emmanuelle Blais at the 5:10 mark. With a 3-1 advantage, Ouellette contributed to Stars history once again. Along with CWHL co-founder Lisa-Marie Breton Lebreux, the two would earn the assists on the first career goal by Stars rookie Chelsey Saunders.
After Blais logged an empty net goal at the 16:35 mark, Ouellette would score the final goal of the game for the second consecutive time. Bettez logged the helper on another empty net goal, giving Montreal a 6-1 victory, also their fourth consecutive.
After the weekend sweep against the Brampton Thunder, Ouellette climbed into a tie for third place with Haley Irwin in the CWHL’s scoring race. Having won the scoring title in 2011, Ouellette provided one of the greatest seasons in modern history. During that 2010-11 CWHL campaign, Ouellette recorded at least one point in every game, something no other player accomplished that season. As a side note, Caroline Ouellette has held the CWHL’s all-time assist record since November 20, 2011.
It is not a coincidence that when Ouellette scores, it translates into wins for the bleu, blanc et rouge. This season alone, Ouellette has assembled a pair of four-game scoring streaks, resulting in eight wins. Such an exertion of energy and effort is one that punctuates a constantly remarkable career.
Of note, the Stars next game on February 21 should be even more special for Ouellette. Going back to Montreal with 241 career points, the contest shall mark the Stars’ annual breast cancer fundraiser. Taking into account that Ouellette’s aunt Claire recovered from the disease, it is a cause close to her heart. Her recent hockey heroics add a message of hope to what is also one of the league’s signature charitable events.
While this recent record breaking performance is not the only legacy Ouellette has left on league scoring records, there is a strong emotional component that cannot be measured. In surpassing Jayna Hefford, Ouellette surpasses more than just a fellow player; she surpasses an ambassador for the game, a role model, and more importantly, a friend.
It was almost one year ago to the day that Ouellette, Hefford and Hayley Wickenheiser would capture their fourth consecutive gold medal in women’s hockey at the Winter Games. Among CWHL circles, the interwoven careers of Ouellette and Hefford are the modern-day answer to the legacies of men’s hockey scoring superstars like Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky, establishing a standard in women’s hockey that may never be matched again.
One day, when fans will speak of both Ouellette and Hefford, the biggest challenge may be separating the mythical from the actual. The two represented the height of their sport by donning the Maple Leaf together for over a decade while also helping to set a strong foundation for a glowingly understated CWHL. In a pair of careers that have been richly eloquent and fully realized, the future will see mainstream sporting fans fondly look back and sentimentalize over the fact that February 7, 2015 may have signified the greatest footnote for a pair of once-in-a-lifetime competitors.
Photo credit: Jess Desjardins, Image obtained from Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MontrealCwhl)