Since their inception into CIS women’s ice hockey, one of the most admirable qualities of the Montreal Carabins program has involved the inclusion of female competitors from France on their roster. This season is no exception as three members of the French national team, including sophomore Emmanuelle Passard, hold roster spots with Les Carabins.
Such an initiative is due to the confidence of legendary figures in Quebec female hockey such as Daniele Sauvageau and France St. Louis, both part of the management team forLes Carabins. Having both participated in the IIHF Mentorship and Ambassadorship Program, occupying a consulting basis with the French national team, their involvement has truly reflected a dedication and commitment to helping the game grow internationally.
Hailing from Sainte-Jeoire-Prieureé, Passard, who is majoring in anthropology, has found tremendous inspiration in the commitment of Sauvageau and St. Louis. Taking into account their strong reputation as leaders, their efforts with Les Carabins was a key factor in Passard committing to the program, one that she feels has paid positive dividends,
“I decided that I wanted to choose the best level of hockey. There is a great structure here (with Les Carabins) and it is a great program. I believe that it will help me progress and improve as a player. I feel that my vision of the game and my skating have greatly improved here.”
Prior to joining Les Carabins, Passard spent the 2013-14 campaign with EV Bomo Thun in the Swiss League, logging 23 points. During 2012-13, Passard competed with French squad HC Neuilly-sur-Marne averaging two points per game.
In her freshman season in Montreal, Passard accumulated a solid 13 points in 18 games for Les Carabins, ranking among the team’s top 10 scorers. When Passard logged at least one point, Les Carabins enjoyed a sparkling 5-2-0 mark. Logging a four-game scoring streak in the second half of the season, her best performance came on a Halloween night match against Ottawa’s Carleton Ravens. Compiling three points, including her first career CIS goal, it was part of an 8-0 blanking.
Adding to such momentum for Passard is the fact that fifth-year player Marion Allemoz, whom she has played with on the French national team, has experienced a very special career milestone. Bestowed the honor of the team captaincy prior to the start of the 2015-16 season, Allemoz becomes the first player from France to serve as a captain at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level in women’s ice hockey.
Along with French national team member Lore Baudrit, currently in her fourth year of eligibility with Les Carabins, Passard has a pair of role models that have helped her make the transition to CIS hockey. Their presence proved essential during her freshman season, one that saw Passard earn a bronze medal with Les Carabins in the 2015 CIS Nationals, the fourth consecutive podium finish for the national power.
“It is true that Lore and Marion have been an influence for me. I have played with them for many years on the French national team and they are like part of my family.”
Wearing number 7 with the French national team, Passard made her debut during the 2008-09 season, recording four points for France at the 2009 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds, Division I competition. Debuting with the senior team in 2011, her coming-out party would prove to be the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Division 1B, logging six points on the strength of four goals.
Since competing with the senior team, Passard has recorded 15 goals and 13 assists in 27 games played, boasting an IIHF Division 1B championship. In 2014 and 2015, France has competed in Division 1A at the IIHF Women’s Worlds, with Passard recording 10 points. During the 2015 edition of the Division 1A Worlds, which saw France compete against the likes of Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark and Norway, Allemoz and Passard ranked in the top 10 in tournament scoring.
In reflecting on the earliest years of her hockey career, Passard cites Christine Duchamp as the one who encouraged her to pursue hockey, positively shaping her outlook on the game. Currently the coach of the French national team, a role she has prominently held since 2005, Duchamp also played with the national team for 12 years, including a stint as team captain. In addition, she balanced her ice hockey commitments while also playing with the French national inline women’s hockey team.
“In my career, my biggest influence was Christine Duchamp. She had discovered me in France when I was younger. I would grow up to love the speed of the game and the feeling of team spirit. Eventually, I would play with the French national team and she was very positive.”
This season, Passard enjoyed a strong start to her sophomore season. Scoring a goal in September 19 exhibition against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, another prominent team nationally, it was a tremendous boost to her confidence.
Despite a scoreless stretch, Passard has refused to blame the sophomore jinx. Closing out the first half of Les Carabins season with a two-game scoring streak, it helped the squad remain in second place, possibly contributing to a strong push in the race for first once the season resumes in January. Her streak included an assist in a 4-1 road win against the Carleton Ravens and a 4-0 blanking at home against Concordia.
As Les Carabins are determined to capture their first national title since 2013, it is a goal that is not lost on Passard. While her freshman season culminated with a bronze medal, the standard of excellence that Les Carabins have established will only be strengthened with gold around the player’s necks come March. Although the bronze was a very significant highlight in Passard’s career, a point of pride in the early days of her time with Les Carabins, she is determined to reach the golden pinnacle, a way of reciprocating the faith that the program has shown in her abilities,
“I was very proud to be able to win the bronze medal as a first-year player. Of course, we wanted to win the gold, but for my first year, it was a proud accomplishment. This year, we definitely want to be on top. It is very important to our team. It would be like winning a world championship for me.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Mark Staffieri