Having experienced one of the most dramatic turnarounds in ECAC hockey history, the Colgate Raiders are an exceptionally inspiring feel-good story. During this exciting time, many players made key contributions towards such success. Among them was Catherine (Cat) Quirion, bringing a steady presence to the blueline, while emerging as one of the team’s premier shot blockers.
Raised in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Quirion would hone her skills with the Stanstead College Spartans, where she was also a three-sport star, excelling in rugby and soccer. Joining the Raiders in the autumn of 2013, her inaugural season would result in 34 blocked shots, a convincing display of toughness, culminating with a pair of impressive honors; ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team honors plus the Raiders’ Rookie of the Year Award.
The 2016-17 campaign was a sensational fulfillment to Quirion’s potential with the Raiders, emerging as both a leader and an offensive catalyst. Having already gained a reputation for durability, appearing in 72 games over the course of her sophomore and junior campaigns, there were many more great moments to come.
Statistically, Quirion experienced an offensive outburst. Compiling an outstanding 22 points in her senior season, she nearly doubled the 12 points logged in her junior campaign. In addition, her 22 points were higher than the cumulative total experienced in her first three seasons with the Raiders (19 points).
Just as important for Quirion was the fact that she enjoyed the privilege of serving as the Raiders team captain. A role that she responsibly accepted in the autumn of 2015, it represented more than just a career milestone. Taking into account that the team has transformed itself into one of the more competitive squads in the ECAC conference, the honor of captaincy represents a formative time in program history.
“Being a captain for the Raiders was a great honor as well as a great responsibility. I was extremely honored to have had the confidence of both my fellow teammates as well as the coaching staff. As a captain, it was my role to exemplify the Colgate values in all aspects of my daily life and lead by example both on and off the ice.
I am really grateful and proud to have had the chance to serve as a captain for two years at a time when our team and program became more and more competitive. The fact that our team was so young added to the responsibility of being a captain but I could not have wished for a better experience.”
Achieving career highs in goals (6), assists (16), points, shots (117), Quirion was a revelation in 2016-17. Of note, the Raiders had a superlative 10-2-1 mark when she registered at least one point. Accentuating this strong output was the fact that she registered a positive plus-minus ranking for the second straight season.
Quirion also helped her own cause with a career-best four game-winning goals. Of note, she would open her senior season with the game-winner against the New Hampshire Wildcats on October 1, an eventual 4-2 final. Exactly one month later, a November 1 tilt with the rival Cornell Big Red saw Quirion record five shots against the opposition, providing the heroics in the 2-1 victory.
With such strong momentum, Quirion would elevate her game to another level, recording game-winning goals in back-to-back games. Taking on Ivy League opponents Yale (November 11) and Brown (November 12), Quirion launched a combined 14 shots on goal, helping to set the offensive tone. Defeating Yale by a 4-3 mark, Quirion would score the Raiders first goal against Brown, while recording the third multi-point performance of her season, as Brown was blanked by a 3-0 tally.
Equally impressive was the fact that Quirion’s strong work ethic and positive attitude is not lost in the classroom. For the fourth consecutive season, she was named to the Raider Academic Honor Roll. As a side note, there was an impressive 18 members of the Raiders women’s hockey team that gained the honor of being named to the Honor Roll in the aftermath of this season.
Having also gained ECAC All-Academic nods in her first two seasons, Quirion is a firm believer in the positive impact that student-athletes convey. Undoubtedly, it was the type of impact that she also hoped would set a solid example for the younger players on the Raiders,
“Hockey has provided me with the great opportunity to get a great education at one of the top liberal arts schools in the country. School was always my top priority in my life and because of hockey I was able to benefit from a great academic experience and I am extremely thankful for that.
Although hockey was always important for me, I knew that once I finished hockey I would continue to benefit from my academic experience and therefore I needed to do my best in the classroom. I am proud to have been part of a program that put an emphasis on academics as well as hockey, with our team achieving the highest team GPA in program history this past semester.
It was great to be able not only to act as a positive role model for my younger teammates but to be able to push each other both inside the classroom and on the ice.”
Of note, Quirion’s final goal as a Raider took place against the St. Lawrence Skating Saints on January 20, contributing to a hard-fought 4-3 win against their nationally ranked opponents. Her goal would be the first of the game, followed by teammate Megan Sullivan providing the Raiders a 2-0 advantage less than two minutes later. A February 17 tilt with conference rivals Clarkson (one day before Raiders senior night) would see Quirion register her final point with the program, assisting on a goal scored by Bailey Larson in the third period.
As she prepares for the next chapter, Quirion has many proud moments to reflect upon with the Raiders. Having experienced the desolation of losing, to rebounding towards glorious jubilation, a key moment in Quirion’s career, and simultaneously, in Raiders hockey lore, took place against the Ivy League powerhouse Harvard Crimson.
Competing against the Crimson in the 2016 edition of the ECAC playoffs, it was a coming of age for Raiders hockey. After a dismal 7-25-2 mark in the 2014-15 season, the Raiders bounced back with one of the greatest turnarounds in NCAA hockey history.
Finishing 2015-16 with a program record 22 wins, compared to just nine losses and seven ties, the Raiders also enjoyed a Top 10 placing in the national polls. Complementing this remarkable run was a great series of postseason milestones.
From the outset, the Raiders hosted their first ECAC playoff game on home ice. Entering the postseason with a 1-28-2 all-time record against Harvard, goaltender Ashlynne Rando made 22 saves to take Game 1, a 4-1 final, resulting in her finest hour.
Quirion would duplicate Rando’s Game 1 heroics with her own captivating performance. After Harvard tied the series with another 4-1 score, the third and deciding game would prove to be Quirion’s finest hour as well.
With Harvard enjoying a 2-1 lead after two periods of play, Quirion rose to the occasion. Along with Bailey Larson, she would gain an assist on Megan Sullivan’s game-tying goal. Scored at the 2:36 mark of the third period, which was also her second goal of the game, the crowd at Starr Arena in Hamilton, New York erupted into electrifying delight.
Needing overtime to decide the series winner, Quirion’s playmaking abilities were the factor once again. Her second assist of the game provided the Raiders with their first-ever postseason series win against Harvard as Shae Labbe logged the series clinching goal at 14:45 in overtime. A hallmark in program history which shifted the balance of power in ECAC hockey, while resulting in a proud point of school pride would also result in Quirion obtaining a lifetime of treasured memories.
“My Colgate experience is filled with great moments, but hockey wise, what stands out as my favorite, and perhaps the most important moment in my career, is the playoff run against Harvard last year. Going into the third game of the series, with home ice advantage, and coming back from a 2-1 deficit and pushing the game to go into overtime.
Being on the ice when we scored the winning goal in OT and having the whole team and the fans come and celebrate with us was a once in a lifetime moment. Going from the worse season in program history to the best season in program history in one year and finally advancing to the ECAC semifinals with such a young team was unbelievable.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Colgate Raiders athletics