Representing a new generation of ambitious women donning the red, white and blue Montreal Stars jersey, Emilie Bocchia is looking to maintain the club’s longtime standard of excellence. Gracing the ice with great potential, the Stars have gone 3-1-0 this season when Bocchia logs at least one point.
A promising player for the future, Bocchia is another remarkable homegrown talent that has established Montreal as a women’s hockey hotbed. Of note, she competed for the famed Dawson College Blues at the CEGEP level, where she was the recipient of the Catherine Ward Scholarship, named in honor of one of the school’s greatest athletes.
She would follow with a five-year career competing for legendary head coach Les Lawton for the University of Concordia Stingers garnering the team’s Rookie of the Year Award. Her final season for the Stingers (2012-13) resulted in closing out her proud career with Team MVP honors. One significant advantage of starring at the program was that it provided her with exposure to some prominent members of the Stars.
Over the years, Stars competitors such as Nathalie Dery, Caroline Ouellette and CWHL co-founder Lisa-Marie Breton Lebreux (who also works for Concordia as a Strength and Conditioning Coach), have all served on Lawton’s coaching staff in various capacities. The chance for Bocchia to call such mentors as Breton and Ouellette as her teammates on the Stars is one of great pride,
“It is great! Having learnt from them and now playing with them is so much fun. I got to see both sides of them as a coach and as a teammate. It is interesting how the hockey world works. We somehow all end up meeting again at one point. They are definitely both inspirations to me and I still look up to them now!”
Of note, many of the other veterans that mentored Bocchia in her rookie campaign with the Stars were also trained at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level. It is testament to the growing relevance and significant growth that CIS hockey has experienced.
Joining the Stars in the autumn of 2013, Bocchia would gain a significant amount of knowledge from former McGill Martlets stars such as Ann-Sophie Bettez, Alyssa Cecere, Vanessa (Vinny) Davidson, Carly Dupont-Hill and team captain Cathy Chartrand. Considering that CIS hockey in Montreal features three strong programs (Concordia, McGill, Montreal Carabins), it is certainly a unique experience to play alongside former rivals.
During a stellar rookie campaign, Bocchia would contribute to the Stars winning the regular season title, the first accolade in her Stars career. In addition, her first career goal would come on November 23, 2013, a memorable day in franchise history. Not only would Bocchia score in the third period of a 4-0 win over Brampton, it marked a unique milestone for fellow rookie Meghan Corley-Byrne. Making her CWHL debut between the pipes, Corley-Byrne would log a shutout, akin to the same impact of a baseball player getting a home run in his first-ever at-bat.
While Bocchia continues to learn and develop at the CWHL level, she has managed some great performances in her sophomore season. In addition to scoring a goal during the weekend that teammate Caroline Ouellette surpassed Jayna Hefford as the CWHL’s all-time leading scorer, Bocchia’s greatest moment came with the Stars on January 4, 2015.
Coincidentally, said moment came once again at the hands of the Brampton Thunder. With overtime having solved nothing, the contest would go to a shootout. Each side had already supplied seven skaters, each yielding a negative result.
After Danielle Skirrow, the eighth skater for Brampton was unable to slip the puck into the Montreal net, head coach Dany Brunet selected Bocchia to try and break the deadlock. Soaring down the ice, Bocchia buried the puck in the Brampton net, winning the game as the Stars bench erupted in approval.
Emulating the likes of Bettez, Ouellette and former player Meghan Agosta, who all scored their share of game-winning tallies for the Stars; feelings of euphoria over a hard-earned win, provided Bocchia with a rare but very treasured chance to provide her own heroics. Through it all, Bocchia remained graceful as she acknowledged the efforts of others,
“It was definitely the highlight of my season. I was given an opportunity to get the W for my team and I succeeded. Shootouts are always very stressful, for the players and the fans, but I stayed calm and knew I had nothing to lose. Especially that seven players before me were not able to get it past the goalie. In fact, my teammates tired her out before it was my turn to shoot. This is highlight is in my top five of my career.”
This season, Bocchia is determined to see her sophomore season end with the Clarkson Cup hoisted over her and her teammates shoulders. After the experience of a regular season title, Bocchia is working harder than ever to see the club earned its fourth crown. That commitment also exemplifies the biggest change she has experienced this season,
“The biggest change this year is that we need to work as a team more than ever. By working as a team, I mean doing all the little things right and giving your all at every game. We definitely have lots of skills, but I think it came easier to us last year. I see this as a positive change for our team because we do not need to count on anyone to be the game changer. We will now all be the game changers.”
”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Jess Desjardins