With proud standing as a member of the CBHA Hall of Fame, every subsequent event adds to the growing legacy of Elysia Desmier. Among the most decorated competitors of the last decade, Desmier continues to amass tremendous accolades, remaining among the greats of the game.
Since the HOF nod, an exceptional stretch from August to September 2023 may be among the most memorable in such a distinguished career. From the outset, Desmier led the Ottawa Capitals to a second consecutive gold medal at the CBHA National Championships, forging a dynasty in the making.
Before the month expired, Desmier was in familiar territory, garbed in the Canadian colors for international play. Making the trek to Buffalo, New York for the ISBHF Masters, sharing a roster spot with long-time teammate, Nathalie Girouard, this distinct duo helped Canada finish atop the podium.
Among the highlights of the CBHA Nationals, none tugged at the heartstrings more than the honour of the Capitals team captaincy. Reflecting on the privilege, it proved surprising for the highly accomplished Desmier. Demonstrating a combination of humility and strong leadership in her sentiments, she stands as a model teammate.
“Being named captain was a surprise. I am not a boisterous leader. Yet, our team came together and it was easy for us to rally each other in times of need. I do not think I needed to do much leading as we have so many strong leaders on the team already. Going undefeated just showed that we were a team of leaders and knew how to get the job done.”
Finishing the tournament with five points, Desmier started on an impressive note. Enjoying a goal and an assist in a 7-0 shutout win versus the archrival New Tecumseth X-Treme, she followed it up with with the game winning goal in the Capitals third game of the preliminary round. Finding the back of the net against the Edmonton Cherry Pickers, finishing with the bronze medal, said goal marked a tournament highlight.
In addition to the C on Desmier’s jersey, another unique plotline for the 2023 Ottawa Capitals saw several new faces on this year’s roster. Including former Carleton Ravens captain Tawnya Guindon, also a teammate of Desmier in the OVWBHL, plus Dek Hockey world champion competitor Kassandra Lesieur-Michaud, another addition proved compelling.
Adding to the championship mix included an All-World talent in Giuliana Pallotta. Having played together for Canada at numerous ISBHF Women’s World Championships, the two were always respected rivals on the CBHA stage.
One of the mainstays for the New Tecumseth X-Treme, Pallotta led the club to provincial and national championships. Assembling a career that may one day lead to the Hall of Fame herself, Pallotta’s place with the Ottawa Capitals yielded highly positive dividends, finishing with tournament MVP honours.
“Every championship you have new faces. They all fit in seamlessly on the floor and learned their roles quickly. Whether that was a more defensive role or a scoring role.
Having played with Pallotta at prior world championships, it is always great knowing she is dependable in whichever role she is put in. Whether it be playing forward or defense. You never have to worry about her. She is always fun to play with on the floor and hang out with off the floor.”
Certainly, the presence of such new, yet very talented, players on the Capitals roster, emerged as an essential theme in Desmier’s latest chapter at Nationals. As this remarkable collection of competitors quickly gelled, putting in place a positive culture, the tone established provided Desmier with a highly enjoyable element.
“Overall, what I enjoyed most was some of the girls I got close to and learnt more about. We became a bit of a family.”
In the aftermath of the glory of the CBHA Nationals, the bookend to such a glorious month saw Desmier wear Canada’s jersey at the ISBHF Masters, contested at the RiverWorks complex in Buffalo. Delivering on all accounts, resulting in MVP honours, the final result consisted of golden glory, with Canada’s women and men perched atop the podium in Buffalo.
Amassing six points in tournament play, Desmier led Canada to its fourth gold medal in tournament history. Fittingly, another element of history was evident in Buffalo, simultaneously bringing an unprecedented relevance to the female game. The United Women’s Ball Hockey Foundation, with the support of Philadelphia’s Temple University staged the inaugural Global Women’s Summit. As growth and development headlined the focus of this event, simultaneously holding an emphasis on collaboration and equity, the happenings in Buffalo may signify a paradigm shift for the important place of women in ball hockey.
With regards to the competition on the slab, Desmier and her fellow Canadians opened the ISBHF Masters on August 30 with a pair of games. An afternoon tilt versus the archrival United States saw Desmier record what proved to be the game-winning goal, finding the pack of the net at 11:39. In a moment of serendipity, the game’s final goal, belonged to Isabelle Aube, a long-time friend of Desmier and fellow luminary in the OVWBHL.
The evening game resulted in a 7-0 trouncing of Great Britain, as the OVWBHL influence was evident again. While Desmier added to her goal total, scoring twice, the heroics belonged to Ashley Burrill. Having also worked to expand the female game in the admirable CARHA organization, Burrill, also a distinguished competitor in OVWBHL lore, recorded a hat trick, the first of the tournament for the triumphant Canadians.
Undoubtedly, Desmier enjoyed her best success versus the US, scoring in all three games. Worth noting, a preliminary round rematch on September 1 saw Canada extend its undefeated mark in a 5-2 win, she scored the last goal in an exhilarating 5-2 victory.
As the gold medal game found the Canadians and the US renewing rivalries, there was no shortage of key contributions in a 3-0 blanking. From the outset, two-time Winter Games gold medalist Jocelyne Larocque recorded the game winning goal, with assists courtesy of her sister Chantal Larcoque-Fritzche and Becca King. Accomplished CBHA mainstay Keeley Prockiw needed only seven saves, while Desmier put her stamp on the tournament. In true storybook fashion, Desmier, honoured as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, scored the event’s last goal, putting the exclamation point on a month to remember.
“Winning CBHA Nationals is always special because you play with a bunch of women you have been playing with, and competing with, in your own league all summer. You know everyone on the team.
Going to the ISBHF Masters, and joining a team (where) I did not know two-thirds of the women. It was special because we all came together very quickly, like we had known each other for years. It was one of the tightest groups (that) I have played with and it was a great feeling finishing on top with such a great group of women.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”