Over the last 12 months, the Canadian sporting community has caught up to the brilliance of Brigette Lacquette. Gaining considerable acclaim as the first player of Indigenous heritage to compete for Canada in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, gracing the ice at PyeongChang 2018 in a podium finish, Lacquette, a member of the Cote First Nation, continues to accumulate achievements in a growing legacy, simultaneously serving as a role model for young Canadians of all backgrounds.
Enjoying her third season with the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno, a team that the native of Mallard, Manitoba captured the Clarkson Cup with as a rookie back in 2016, (also the first Cup finals contested on NHL ice), she has quickly become a favorite among fans throughout all of the league’s markets. Testament to her burgeoning status as a celebrated player was evident in the online fan voting that decided the captains for the 2019 CWHL All-Star Game.
Garnering more than 50% of the vote, one of the most impressive showings since the league implemented the voting system, Lacquette’s popularity quickly became one of the feel-good stories of the 2018-19 CWHL season. With an early lead in fan voting, it snowballed into a remarkable outpouring of support, which placed the Inferno blueliner in a landslide position by the final day of voting on January 4.
Joining a distinguished sorority of wondrous women that have been bestowed the honor of All-Star captaincy, including the likes of Jessica Campbell and Meaghan Mikkelson, both teammates from the Clarkson Cup championship team, Lacquette becomes part of a treasured chapter in league history. Julie Chu, the first woman to win Clarkson Cup titles with two different teams, Carlee Campbell-Euseppi, Charline Labonte and Natalie Spooner, the only two-time captain in All-Star history, complete the rest of this revered group.
Certainly, the prestige of becoming an All-Star captain generated significant delight, adding another highly notable feat to an already sparkling hockey resume, “I was pretty excited when I found out! It is a huge honour to be a part of the All-Star weekend.”
Before taking to the ice at Toronto’s Scotiabank Centre, site of every All-Star Game in the CWHL’s emerging history, Lacquette and fellow captain, Liz Knox of the Markham Thunder, participated in the ritual of the Frozen Fantasy All-Star Draft, which determines the starting lineup, Lacquette certainly assembled a dream team. With the first pick overall, she selected Marie-Philip Poulin, one of the most popular players of her generation.
Lacquette’s second selection of the Draft, third overall, resulted in the acquisition of Toronto Furies super rookie Sarah Nurse, a highly touted prospect who also made her Winter Games debut at PyeongChang 2018. Emerance Maschmeyer, a former teammate of Lacquette during the 2016-17 CWHL season, culminating with the Inferno’s second straight appearance in the Clarkson Cup finals, was selected as Team Purple’s starting goaltender.
Current Inferno teammates Blayre Turnbull and Halli Krzyzaniak, a fellow Manitoban, completed the starting lineup with her fourth and fifth picks. In discussing the rationale for assembling the starting lineup of Team Purple, Lacquette disclosed that her approach was based on an element of confidence, satisfied in her selections, “I had no strategy, I was comfortable with the people I picked.”
Overall, the Inferno would send a league-high nine participants to the All-Star Game, indicative of their standing as a first place team. Although the number was divided among both Team Purple and Team Gold, with Brianna Decker among one of Knox’s picks in the Draft, the sense of mutual respect and high regard surpassed any rivalry on this day. Of note, other members of the Inferno’s nifty nine All-Stars that had the Team Purple regalia emblazoned on their jerseys included first-year American players Zoe Hickel and goaltender Alex Rigsby, who called Decker a teammate with the American contingent at the 2018 Winter Games.
Presenting themselves as opposition on Team Gold were a collection of Winter Games veterans including 2018 Winter Games gold medalists Kacey Bellamy and Brianna Decker, while Brianne Jenner and Rebecca Johnston, two of the league’s leading scorers and Canadian national team stars. Worth noting, Jenner enjoyed a banner day, becoming only the third competitor in All-Star history to record a hat trick. Despite their standing as opponents, taking to the ice against Inferno teammates on Team Gold represented one of the most enjoyable aspects of the All-Star experience for the captain, “It was a lot of fun, so many great players.”
Equally enjoyable was the fact that the coaching staffs for both teams involved a gathering of former Maple Leafs goaltenders plus Team Canada women’s hockey heroes, supplying a feeling of celebration and reunion. While Team Gold saw Glenn Healy, also a Stanley Cup champion from the 1994 New York Rangers, plus Charline Labonte, a former recipient of the CWHL Goaltender of the Year Award and a member of the Triple Gold Club, at the helm, the presence of Team Purple was just as notable.
Curtis Joseph, a former recipient of the King Clancy Memorial Award, named in the honor of the great-grandfather of Laura Stacey, who skated for Team Purple, stood between the pipes for the Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames, along with stints in Detroit, Edmonton and St. Louis. Joined by Cheryl Pounder, a member of Canada’s first gold medal winning team at the Winter Games (2002) and a highly respected broadcaster, she also served in a coaching capacity for the 3rd CWHL All-Star Game, respetively.
Adding lustre to the presence of these four fantastic individuals was the involvement of former Maple Leafs captain, and 1993 playoff hero, Doug Gilmour participating in the ceremonial puck drop, adding a sense of relevance to the event, allowing the women of hockey to stand shoulder to shoulder with their contemporaries in the men’s game. As these players also represented a facet of Lacquette’s youth, finding inspiration in their heroics, dynasty and destiny collided, signifying her arrival to the same vaunted status,
“Yeah, it was pretty cool. I mean, these are players I grew up watching, so it was definitely cool to finally get to meet, Curtis Joseph and have Doug Gilmour drop the puck.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
All-Star Images obtained from: https://twitter.com/briglacquette