Returning for her fourth season of eligibility with the McGill Martlets, Melodie Daoust can stake her claim as the most talented player in Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s ice hockey. Definitely a favorite in the conversation regarding the 2016 Brodrick Trophy, Daoust’s world-class skills shall prove crucial as the Martlets look to reclaim the CIS National Title.
Last season, Daoust only suited up in 12 games and responded with an astounding 21 points. Recording nine goals and 12 assists, she was brilliant in the postseason. A hat trick in the final game of the RSEQ Finals against the archrival Montreal Carabins only added to her growing Martlet legend. In the opening match of the 2015 CIS Nationals, Daoust would log another hat trick, including the game-winning tally.
Considering her remarkable body of work with the Martlets, which includes back-to-back RSEQ scoring titles and the 2013 Brodrick Trophy, Daoust enters her fourth season with an even higher level of motivation. Bestowed the honor of the captaincy, it is more than just a career milestone that Daoust approaches with great pride; it firmly establishes her as the face of the program.
“It is a great honor to be able to represent my team but it is not just me. The assistant captains, Joanne Cagianos, Brittany Fouracres and Erika Pyke, are great. Every single member of this team, they are leaders in their own way. Every one brings big leadership.”
Following in the footsteps of legendary Martlets such as Ann-Sophie Bettez, Cathy Chartrand and Vinny Davidson, Daoust has extended the program’s legacy, adding to the growing mythology of women’s ice hockey in Montreal. Among her remarkable accomplishments, Daoust has competed at all three levels of Hockey Canada’s national teams, including U18, U22/Developmental and the Senior Team.
At Sochi 2014, Daoust made her Winter Games debut for the Canadian contingent. Of note, she joined the likes of Martlet alumnae such as Charline Labonte, Kim St. Pierre and Catherine Ward by earning a gold medal in ice hockey at the Winter Games. Scoring against Switzerland in the women’s hockey semifinals in Sochi, Daoust was part of the “Canadian Miracle on Ice” as Canada fought back from a 2-0 deficit to capture an emotional gold medal in overtime.
Considering that it was two years ago that the Canadian team began its centralization camp, the first step on the journey towards the gold medal, the journey feels like it was yesterday for Daoust. In reflecting on such a glorious moment, Daoust’s proud smile is beyond doubt,
“You feel like you will never fall off that cloud. It was just such a great moment and it impacted the country. Everyone showed so much support. I cannot believe that it has been almost two years. I want to stay in that moment.”
Prior to Sochi, she was part of another historic chapter in Canadian women’s hockey, as she helped the U18 team capture its first-ever gold medal at the IIHF U18 Worlds in 2010. Although Daoust is a key component in the future of Montreal women’s hockey, there is an element of mixed emotions as she prepares for this season.
The Martlet hockey program saw one of its legends, Catherine Ward hang up her skates. Having had the privilege of playing with Ward (along with former Martlet goaltender Labonte) at Sochi, it was an opportunity for two generations of Martlet stars to represent Canada on the world’s biggest stage.
“I feel like she was such a great player, really important in women’s hockey, one of the best defenders in the world. She has done a lot of things and is now moving on to a great career. I am really happy about what she has done in the past and she is going to continue to be a great role model.”
Among the remarkable achievements in Daoust’s career, the one that has eluded her is the CIS National Championship. Having competed in the title game in both 2013 and 2015, Daoust and the Martlets refuse to settle for silver in 2016. After a visceral loss to the Western Mustangs in 2015, which saw goaltender Kelly Campbell assemble one of the greatest goaltending performances in CIS history (which included stopping seven of Daoust’s shots), it is a driving force that has filled the offseason with motivation.
“In the long-term, winning the championship again is a goal for us. It would be amazing to finally get it back.”
With the Martlets anticipating the regular season, Daoust has not lost a step, scoring a hat trick in preseason play against the Queen’s Golden Gaels, one of the top teams in the OUA conference. Another key component has included an extensive exhibition schedule competing against several NCAA Division I programs.
Despite such a busy preseason, the Martlets also graced the ice at McConnell Arena to host the CWHL’s Canadiennes de Montreal, a team Daoust is one day destined to play with. For the fans in attendance, it was a rare opportunity to witness two Martlet scoring sensations, one current and one alumnus, on the ice together. Currently a member of Les Canadiennes, Ann-Sophie Bettez once set an RSEQ scoring record of 54 points while donning McGill’s colors, a record that was tied during Daoust’s sophomore season (2012-13).
An additional element of the match held high emotion for Daoust. Of note, several members of Les Canadiennes, including franchise players Caroline Ouellette and Marie-Philip Poulin Playing were her former teammates in Sochi. Despite a 7-0 triumph for the visiting team, she reflects on the game in a positive manner, displaying great maturity that is testament to her strong leadership,
“I think it is very good. Les Canadiennes are really strong and they have a good team. It is good to prepare against them and build on that. We just need to keep building and get better. Every single day, it is our purpose.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credit: Marc St. Pierre