Having gained prominence as one of the finest goaltenders in the OUA, guarding the crease for the Queen’s Golden Gaels, Stephanie Pascal proudly shares her acumen with a new generation aspiring to excel between the pipes. Serving on Andre Brunette’s coaching staff with the U18 AA Sudbury Lady Wolves, the prestige earned as Ontario’s recipient of the 2022 BFL Coach of the Year Award in the Competition category signified a substantial pinnacle.
A former OUA Goaltender of the Year, earning the honor in 2017-18, Pascal also enjoyed the U Sports Female Athlete of the Month Award earlier in the season, bestowed upon her in January. Having established herself as a prime time player in the postseason, a pair of appearances at the U Sports Women’s Nationals stood as notable highlights. Bringing her Golden Gaels career to a close with a 1.91 goals against average and .928 save percentage in her final season (2018-19), Pascal assembled a formidable body of work.
Returning home to Sudbury after graduation, specializing in Chemical Engineering, the highly cerebral Pascal found an ideal opportunity to remain in hockey with an organization she once starred for. Having enjoyed many glories in the paraphernalia of the Lady Wolves during her teens, a pair of OWHA gold medals, plus a bronze medal at the 2013 Esso Cup enhanced her standing as one of the Nickel Belt’s all-time greats.
“It is incredibly special to be able to coach in the same association I grew up playing. It is interesting seeing how much the program has grown since when I played, specifically with the U18AA team. It is a unique experience to be coaching in the same rinks I remember playing in. As a coach for the Lady Wolves, I hope to help the girls I work with gain as many memories as I did while playing for the Lady Wolves.”
Spending the 2021-22 season on the coaching staff of the Sudbury Lady Wolves, homecoming remained a key theme for the gregarious goaltender. Grateful at the opportunity to contribute towards a new era in team lore, certainly rekindling glorious memories, the feeling of paying it forward, mentoring today’s Lady Wolves between the pipes, holds a strong sense of purpose,
Of note, Pascal was not the only member of her family to have a memorable 2022 in hockey. Her father, Randy, well known as a sportswriter for the Sudbury Star was also an on-ice official at the 2010 and 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Returning to his third Olympics in 2022, he served as an off-ice scorekeeper plus a goal and assist spotter.
A few years prior, Pascal served as a volunteer when Sudbury served as host city for the 2019 Esso Cup, which saw the Lady Wolves qualify for the gold medal game. Coincidentally, the Lady Wolves goaltender in 2019, Mireille Kingsley, followed in Pascal’s footsteps, playing university hockey. Heading into the 2022-23 season, Lady Wolves goaltenders Emily Dambremont and Zoe Reinguette will aspire to emulate the likes of Kingsley and Pascal, whose career reached a new summit.
Recognized with the 2022 BFL Canada Coaching Award in the Competitive category for Ontario, it marked a cherished milestone for Pascal, demonstrating the potential for a bright future in this role. Worth noting, the recipient of the Community category also hails from Northern Ontario, testament to the region’s increasing impact. Kiara Jefferies, a head coach with the U11 North Bay IceBoltz also coaches in the U7 FUNdamentals program, also a focus for Pascal.
“I was very surprised when I found out I received this award. I am still very new to coaching and have a lot to learn, so I was shocked that someone thought enough of me to nominate me at this stage. I am very honoured to be selected as the winner in a province that has many talented female coaches involved in the game.”
Building on the momentum of the prestigious award, a milestone-filled summer enriched Pascal’s standing as an elite coach. Earning an invitation from the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association, attendance at the Hockey Canada Women’s Master Coach Developer Program is poised to provide many benefits. Additionally, Pascal shall serve in a coaching capacity at the Ontario Summer Games in Mississauga, featuring an U16 women’s ice hockey event.
Also involved with the Sudbury District Girls Hockey Association, currently holding a prominent role, Pascal’s outlook is clearly primed towards the future. With resuscitation for the game following a time of idleness due to the pandemic, it marked a sense of rejuvenation for Pascal, eager to return to the ice and inspire.
Possessing a very full schedule, the constant occupation marks fulfillment for Pascal. With a plethora of responsibilities, complemented by an admirable motivation, she can be found on the ice with the Lady Wolves along with the U7 FUNdamentals, representing for some, their inaugural exposure to the frozen perimeter.
Working with such distinct age groups, both on opposite ends of the competitive spectrum, Pascal finds a common thread of enjoyment. While she proudly takes on the duties of coach and instructor, which can involve roles as mentor and a figurative big sister, inspiration becomes reciprocal.
“I honestly love all elements of being involved with the Sudbury District Girls Hockey Association. Last year, post-Covid, I really just wanted to be involved in any way I could.
My primary role was obviously assistant coach with the U18AA team, but I was also on the SDGHA board as Director of Player Development, a goalie coach for a few teams and an on-ice helper with the FUNdamentals (U7) group.
My favourite parts were really just being on the ice with the girls and seeing how much fun they were having at every level. It is a lot of fun to see the U7s who are just starting out, but I also love the compete and dedication of the U18AA team. I love that I am able to help them with things off-ice as well and hopefully assist them in reaching whatever goals they have set for themselves.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”