In the last five years, the Montreal Carabins have established themselves as a national powerhouse in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) play. With ambitions to ensure that the following five years are just as fruitful, the program boasts one of Quebec’s finest young talents in Jessica Cormier.
Raised in the tiny community of Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Cormier participated in boys hockey until the age of 14. In 2009, Cormier’s career would take a new direction. Competing at Les Jeux du Quebec, she was discovered by Pascal Dufresne, the head coach of Cegep Limoilou. He invited her to participate at the Limoilou training camp in November 2010.
Competing for Cegep Limoilou for three years, Cormier garnered MVP honors. In her third season, she began with a strong 16 point performance in the first 11 games. As a francophone athlete, she had been recruited by the likes of not only the Montreal Carabins, but the Ottawa Gee-Gees (led by former Montreal Axion head coach Yanick Evola) and Les Aigles Bleues de Moncton.
“The highlight of my time playing at Cegep Limoilou was the opportunity to win a championship three years in a row. I had left my home at Ile-des-Madeleines to pursue hockey there. Pascal Dufresne was a great coach.”
With such prodigious talent, an invitation from Hockey Canada to attend its U22 Strength and Conditioning Camp soon followed. Of note, she was joined by fellow Limoilou teammates Catherine Dubois and Stephanie Lalancette. In addition, future CIS rival Gabrielle Davidson of the McGill Martlets was also in attendance.
“It was a great experience which has allowed me to develop as a player. I enjoyed that I was introduced to different players from across the country.”
Having just finished her freshman campaign for the Montreal Carabins, Cormier posted a respectable 17 points. This was complemented by disciplined play that saw her log only 16 penalty minutes in 20 regular season games played. As a side note, her 17 points ranked fourth on the club, trailing the likes of veteran players such as Ariane Barker (the 2015 RSEQ Player of the Year), Audrey Gariepy and Josiane Legault.
Making her CIS debut on October 17, 2014 against cross-town rival Concordia, her first points would come on October 26. Of note, Cormier logged a pair of assists in a 6-0 road win against Ottawa’s Carleton University Ravens. As it also marked her first CIS career multi-point game, Cormier’s great promise was beginning to be fulfilled.
Just five days later, a Halloween rematch against Carleton saw Cormier rise to the occasion. An 8-0 whitewash against the Ravens saw Cormier score her first CIS goal. She would also post two assists for another multi-point performance. It would prove to be the second of four multi-point performances during her rookie season.
“I felt a great sense of relief after scoring my first goal in CIS play. It was a very proud moment for me.”
In the New Year, Cormier’s game would strengthen further with a seven game point streak that lasted from January 18 to February 13. The Carabins would respond to her efforts by posting a 6-1-0 mark during the streak. Perhaps more impressive was the fact that when Cormier logged at least one point in a regular season match, the Carabins enjoyed a 10-2-0 record.
With Cormier’s season culminating with an appearance in the bronze medal game of the CIS nationals, emotions certainly ran high. Not only was it the final game for Carabins’ seniors such as team captain Janique Duval, Elizabeth Mantha and Josianne Legault, it would mark the final time that St. FX superstar Alex Normore would grace CIS ice.
Cormier helped set the tone early by logging the game’s first goal, which was also scored on the power play. Assisted by Josiane Legault and Laurence Beaulieu, it would provide momentum for the Carabins as fellow freshman Emmanuelle Passard scored again for a 2-0 advantage.
While Normore would earn an assist in the third period, reducing the Carabins’ lead to one goal, it would prove to be the closest that the St. FX X-Women would get. Cormier’s efforts contributed to the Carabins finishing the season with another podium finish at the CIS Nationals, providing Duval and the other sensational seniors with a storybook ending to their careers, while the torch is now passed to Cormier.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: David Moll