In her fifth and final season with the Montreal Carabins, Kim Deschenes stands as one of the greatest players in the history of the nascent program. Originally from Saint-Quentin, New Brunswick, she is one of the province’s finest hockey ambassadors.
Kind, humble and caring, she was a key on-ice contributor in shaping the culture of the Carabins into one of the finest in Canadian Interuniversity Sport play. For all her efforts in a glorious university career, including a CIS national title and two gold medals at the Winter Universiade, it was only fitting that her final game was contested in her home province.
As St. Thomas University in New Brunswick hosted the 2014 CIS National Championship, Deschenes and the Carabins battled their rivals, the McGill Martlets. Although the Carabins were not able to claim their second consecutive national title, the chance to compete in her home province brought her career full circle.
In reflecting on her early years of hockey, Deschenes explains what motivated her to go from New Brunswick for the chance to compete with the Carbains in Montreal.
“Isabelle Leclaire (the Carabins head coach) came to see me play in New Brunswick. She recruited me to the program and I visited the campus the year before they had a team. I also had the opportunity to meet Daniele Sauvageau and France St. Louis. They have improved my hockey. A coach like Isabelle really helped me elevate my game.”
Many remarkable women on and off the ice have helped to make up the leadership of the Carabins. For Deschenes, the guidance and mentorship of France St. Louis, recognized as Quebec’s greatest female athlete in the 1980s, was a tremendous source of influence,
“It is certain that France is someone who possesses a lot of energy. On Wednesday mornings and Friday mornings, she is on the ice. She likes the offensive side of the game a lot. She is very technical and shows us a lot of neat plays. She likes to push us and encourage us.”
Of note, St. Louis is not the only member of the Carabins program with connections to the Canadian national team. Carabins head coach Isabelle Leclaire coached many Team Canada alumni on the Montreal Stars in the CWHL, leading them to the first-ever Clarkson Cup. Carabins general manager Danielle Sauvageau served as Canada’s head coach at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games. Her involvement with the Carabins has provided great pride for Deschenes and other players.
“She is the true definition of a role model and someone who always gives great advice. With someone like her involved with the Carabins, I know that I made a good decision. She is an incredible person.”
One of the great legacies of women’s hockey in the city of Montreal is the remarkable women who have served as captains. Lisa-Marie Breton Lebreux and Cathy Chartrand have served as captains in both CIS and CWHL play for Montreal-based teams. Deschenes certainly deserves to be included in the conversation as one of the great women’s hockey captains in the hockey mad city.
“This was my third year as the Carabins captain. I was very young when I was named the captain. The appointment helped to provide me with a lot of confidence.”
Since the Carabins have been part of Canadian Interuniversity Sport play, they have qualified for the nationals in every season. After a silver medal in 2012, Deschenes was part of a gold medal triumph in 2013.
“The CIS nationals are always my goal. When we won the national championship last season, the C on my sweater did not change anything. We played as a team and followed a game plan like we did when we defeated McGill.”
Complementing her 2013 CIS national title was a gold medal in December 2013 at the Winter Universiade in Compe d’Allazo, Italy. As the only member of the 2013 roster to have competed at the 2011 edition of the Universiade, Deschenes was definitely one of the leaders for Canada. The opportunity to compete with several Carabins teammates on the Canadian squad in 2013 such as Sophie Brault, Josiane Legault and Elodie Rousseau-Sirios only added to the prestige,
“This was my second time with the Canadian team. My first experience was in 2011 in Ezrum, Turkey. I definitely had some experience with me. As the only player from 2011 on the team in 2013, it certainly gave me confidence and a lot of energy.
I was also named captain of Team Canada. To be able to wear the Canadian jersey is a great feeling. At our age, it is too late to dream of playing on the senior team, so this is a big thrill. It is certainly the next big thing for many of us. To represent Canada is an incredible feeling and truly a dream come true. I was very honored.”
While she has approached the twilight of her storied CIS career, Deschenes is an ambitious and empowered woman whose love of the game has not dwindled. She is hoping to extend her career in the city that has had such a profound impact on her game,
“I would be very interested in having the opportunity to play for the Montreal Stars. It is definitely a goal.”
As she prepares for the next chapter in her remarkable career, there is no question that her legacy with the Carabins and her role as one of the new heroes of women’s hockey in Montreal is undisputed. The next Carabins skater destined to don the C on their sweater may have big shoes to fill, but there is no question that Deschenes has set a positive example for others to follow.
”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Carabins image obatined from: http://www.acadienouvelle.com/sports/2013/12/27/une-annee-2013-bien-remplie-pour-kim-deschenes/
Team Canada image obatined from: http://www.acadienouvelle.com/sports/2013/10/03/direction-italie-kim-deschenes-en-decembre/