Donning the number 42, Casandra Dupuis enters her final season as a member of the magnificent Carabins de Montreal with an even more enhanced leadership presence. Part of a leadership core that includes fellow fifth-year player Laurence Beaulieu as team captain, along with France’s Lore Baudrit, they compose a triumvirate of accomplished Carabins, eager to finish their proud careers with another opportunity at the National Championship.
With the "A" adorning her jersey, the product of Sherbrooke, Quebec, who first starred with College Edouard-Montpetit, feels an even stronger sense of responsibility, ready to set the positive example for the young members wearing the Carabins black and blue jersey. Employing a solid work ethic, Dupuis embodies the sense of pride that comes with skating for one of the most prestigious programs in U Sports.
When asked about the possible pressures that accompany such an honor, she discusses the importance of leadership. Emphasizing that it is a shared duty, it helps to define the essence of one of the team’s core values.
“It is a yes and no answer. Deep down we all try to transmit the values of the team to the younger players in the hopes that they can then transmit those same values to the future players. We are all responsible in that role. Whether we have the A on our sweater or not, it should not make a difference. The A just identifies me as one of the team’s veteran players.”
Although the 2016-17 season began with a pair of hard fought losses to McGill, spoiling their season opener, and an upset on the road to the Carleton Ravens, the maturity and leadership qualities of Dupuis shine through. Ranking third in team scoring with 7 points through the first 11 games of the season, she also compiled a solid three-game scoring streak.
Of note, Dupuis recalls how the previous season began with a series of struggles and surprising losses in the first half. Employing a calming sense of wisdom, Dupuis remembers how second half adjustments replenished the club with confidence, resulting in the championship finish,
“Although the beginning of the season can be difficult, it’s how you finish that’s important. I hope that this year we have the same finish. It can be a learning curve but we will build on our defeats so we can improve.”
Since Dupuis first wore the Carabins jersey in 2011, earning RSEQ All-Rookie Honors, the sport of women’s ice hockey has experienced a renaissance in Montreal, highlighted by increased media coverage, chronicling the remarkable achievements taking place at the CEGEP, U Sports and professional levels.
Dupuis has gained the opportunity to take part in all levels, with a pair of seasons spent with the former Montreal Stars, before rejoining the exceptional ladies of Les Carabins. Selected by the Stars in the fourth round of the 2013 CWHL Draft, a class that included Ivy Leaguers Lauriane Rougeau and Camille Dumais, along with RSEQ rivals Emilie Bocchia from Concordia, and Fannie Desforges, the captain of the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
Making her Stars debut on November 9, 2013 at Boston, Dupuis’ first point would come as an assist in a December 15, 2013 home affair vs. Calgary. The assist was earned on a third period goal by Marieve Provost, while Carabins alum Catherine Herron gained the win
The first goal for Dupuis complemented what was also her first multi-pooint effort with the Stars, a convincing 5-2 home win on Jan 4, 2014. Scoring said goal against Boston goaltender Brittany Ott, (who would become first goalie to win the Clarkson and Isobel Cups in a career), Carabins pride would shine on this magical night as Herron gained the win again.
After appearing in the 2015 Clarkson Cup finals, Dupuis decided to return to Les Carabins, whose presence provided an element of serendipity. The first game of her comeback season involved the game-winning goal in an exhibition game against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Scoring said goal in the second period, captain Marion Allemoz (the first player born from France to serve as captain at the CIS level) and the prodigious Jessica Cormier both logged the assists.
In her first season back with the club, she contributed a respectable 14 points, one of eight players on the roster in double digits. An exceptional 10 assists highlighted her superlative playmaking ability, ranking second on the team behind Alexandra Labelle and Maude Laramee, who were each tied for first with 11 assists.
Dupuis’ first point in the regular season resulted in an assist in a 5-0 blanking of Ottawa’s Carleton Ravens on the road. She would enjoy continued success against Carleton, scoring her first goal of season against Ravens in another shutout win.
The 3-0 blanking took place on October 30 in front of the hometown fans. Scoring the first goal of the game (with assists credited to Ariane Barker and Audrey Gariepy) on Ravens star goaltender Katelyn Steele, it would also stand as the game winning goal.
Statistically, Dupuis’ best performance occurred on January 15, 2016 as she factored into every goal scored in the game, a hard-fought 2-1 win against Concordia. Laurie Mercier assisted on her first period goal while the two would team up and assist on a goal scored by Audrey Gariepy.
Proving the importance of the finish to one’s season, Dupuis’ return would come full circle with the opportunity to compete in the 2016 CIS National Championships. During the run to the second national title, Dupuis would score the eighth and final goal for Montreal, also the last goal of the 2015-16 CIS season, in an 8-0 whitewash of the UBC Thunderbirds.
It proved to be a fitting end for Dupuis as the championship also allowed her a unique spot in Carabins history. Among the highlights in Dupuis’ distinguished career with Les Carabins, the most gratifying may be the fact that she holds the rare distinction of having played for both of the program’s national championship teams.
Taking into account that archrival McGill has also captured a pair of titles in this decade; it has signified a golden age which has seen the two equally contribute to a shared dynasty that has seen women’s ice hockey in Montreal set the gold standard in a decade of dominance. Undoubtedly, Dupuis’ contributions were invaluable during this highly treasured title season, as her efforts shall hold a treasured place in the magical lore of Carabins women’s ice hockey,
“It was a feeling that was truly special to win it a second time. It was another great experience but with a new team. It was definitely a new story. Our start this year was similar to last year.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Marc St. Pierre