A multi-sport sensation whose outstanding body of work involved seven sensational seasons of CWHL hockey, Carolyne Prevost provided a combination of tenacity and an enthusiasm for the game. With a reassuring smile that provided a comforting presence to any team whose colors she wore, there was always an underlying aspect of confidence. That approach remains most prevalent during a season that started with ominous uncertainty, as Prevost joined an admirable group of players looking to positively shape the game’s future in the PWPHA.
Prior to Prevost’s involvement with the PWHPA, the beginning of the decade saw the Sarnia, Ontario raised forward among a group of star players skating with the famed University of Wisconsin Badgers. Capturing an NCAA Frozen Four championship in 2011, calling the likes of Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight and Alex Rigsby as teammates, Prevost was joined by Knight among the top prospects of the 2012 CWHL Draft. Selected with the 15th overall pick by the Montreal Stars, she was part of a celebrated draft class for the franchise, which included Charline Labonte, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Florence Schelling and Marieve Provost, while Knight was the first round pick of the archrival Boston Blades.
Racking up a solid 15 points in 21 games played in a very respectable rookie campaign for Montreal, placing seventh in team scoring, Prevost’s first appearance in le tri-colore actually involved an exhibition game versus Team France. Achieving the landmark milestone of her first CWHL regular season goal on a very special night, as the Stars hosted their Pink at the Rink fundraiser at Centre Etienne-Desmarteau, the November 17, 2012 affair saw Prevost find the back of the net versus Blades’ backstop Molly Schaus at the 2:09 mark of the second period. Coincidentally, Knight gained the nod as one of the Three Stars of the Game in a 5-3 win.
With assists on Prevost’s goal credited to Meghan Agosta and Julie Chu, it marked a unique linkage. A charter member of Canadian Under-18 national women’s ice hockey team, Prevost donned the Maple Leaf on numerous other occasions. Among such occasions, Prevost called Agosta a teammate on Team White at the 2011 Hockey Canada Fall Festival Camp. Running parallel to her first season of CWHL hockey, she also skated for Canada’s Under-22/Development Team in a gold medal effort at the 2013 Meco Cup.
Worth noting, Prevost would gain another pair of prestigious highlights before said season expired. Statistically, her finest best performance with Montreal involved a five-point outburst on January 20, 2013, recording two goals and three assists in a 9-1 thrashing of the Brampton Thunder, earning Second Star of the Game honours. Contributing a playoff goal in a 5-0 shutout over the Brampton Thunder, Prevost also enjoyed the milestone of reaching the Clarkson Cup Finals in her first season. Despite Knight’s Blades emerging victorious, the transition was one based on a pleasant and supporting tone,
“It was definitely a big change from playing DI hockey at the University of Wisconsin to entering the CWHL. We were extremely spoiled at University so it took some time to adapt to the new reality of Professional women’s hockey. However, the staff in place in Montreal were incredible. I also got the chance to play with some amazing hockey players there so I enjoyed my experience with the Stars. It was exciting playing in the Clarkson Cup Final that year.”
Although the jubilation of the Cup eluded Prévost in 2013, merely one year later, her journey in the professional ranks involved the composition of a fascinating new chapter. Signing with the Toronto Furies, the city would hold a highly meaningful impact for her. Coincidentally, Toronto was also the first city in which the PWHPA hosted a showcase event, one that saw Prevost skate for Team Knox at the Unifor Showcase in September 2019, whose roster included over a dozen former Furies, including Natalie Spooner and Sarah Nurse.
As one the Furies’ fantastic acquisitions, Prevost quickly evolved from ingénue into leader, bringing forth a new era of stars in franchise lore. With nearly two dozen players inactive during the 2013-14 CWHL season due to their participating in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games, Prevost quickly emerged as one of the league’s most popular players, simultaneously setting the tone on offense for a Furies team looking to retain its status as a postseason contender.
While the Furies would qualify for the Clarkson Cup tournament as the fourth-seeded team, the experience from 2013 served Prevost very well, allowing her the confidence to take on a bigger role with the Furies. Undoubtedly, Prevost’s tenacity was essential for a Furies team that eliminated her former team, the Montreal Stars, in the opening round. Challenging the Boston Blades in the Finals, there was a strong sense of redemption for Prevost, looking to avenge the loss suffered the previous year.
“I would say it was one of the more memorable championships I have won. I think the fact that we were the big underdogs that year made it even more special. It was amazing to see how the team came together at the right time and played unbelievable hockey to win that championship. I still miss that team to this day. We had a special group of girls.”
Before the year would expire, Prevost would add another monumental achievement, enriching her sporting journey. Appearing in the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game, the event truly heralded her arrival as one of the league’s eminent performers. Donning the jersey of Team Red, joined on the roster by fellow Furies Tessa Bonhomme, Megan Bozek, Christina Kessler, Jenelle Kohanchuk and Shannon Moulson, there was a pair of unique aspects adding lustre to the event.
From the outset, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, home of the NHL’s Maple Leafs served as host venue. Unforeseen at the time, the venue would also take on the role of permanent home, hosting three more CWHL All-Star events. Additionally, Prevost shared in the elation of All-Star status along with a pair of other legendary Badgers skaters. With Duggan and Knight, former teammates from the Frozen Four title team, suiting up Team White, it extended the respectful rivalry in the pros between them, as the aforementioned also skated for the Boston Blades. Undeniably, the chance for Prevost to grace NHL ice with them, along with a collection of Furies skaters contributed towards a shared sense of history, one that remains treasured,
“It was a cool experience playing at the CWHL All-Star Game. I got to play against the top players in the world and I was honoured to be chosen to take part in that game.”
Although the Furies would never capture another Clarkson Cup title during the remaining existence of the CWHL, there was the opportunity for another championship, providing another layer to the franchise’s proud history and strong team culture. With a significant number of Furies, and distinguished rivals from the Brampton Thunder, united on one team, adopting green as its official colour, identified by the nomenclature of Shamrocks, their competitive proficiency left a significant mark on the ball hockey slab.
Qualifying for the 2015 Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA) Nationals, the Shamrocks impressed, as the amalgam of CWHL stars marched into the championship game. Perhaps the most unique element of the Shamrocks roster was the fact that Christina Kessler, the Furies starting goaltender, played at forward for the Shamrocks. Meanwhile, Kristy Zamora, a charter member of the Furies (and long time CWHL forward), tended goal.
With Prevost tied for second in the elimination round scoring, trailing teammate Jenny Brine, she established herself as a key contributor. In the semi-final versus the defending national champion Vanier Mooseheads, Prévost and Meagan Aarts gained the assists on the game-winning goal scored by Jenny Brine.
The gold medal game versus Newfoundland United saw Prevost score the game’s opening goal. Although overtime was required to determine the winner, there was a strong sense of serendipity in the fact that Brine recorded the overtime-winning goal, supplying the Shamrocks with their first-ever CBHA National Championship. Although Prévost was a novice in competitive ball hockey, adopting the sport as a means of maintaining contact in the off-season with teammates, while enjoying the benefits of off-season conditioning, her abilities as a natural athlete shone through, adding another prized brush with glory in her distinguished career,
“It was a unique experience for me as this was not a sport I grew up playing. I played it during that summer to join some teammates of mine and have fun playing hockey. I did not expect to win a National championship from it but it was certainly a memorable experience having my Furies teammates there with me. I cannot say (that) I have had much time to play ball hockey in the summer since that time. So I guess my short lived ball hockey career was a success.”
With four more seasons of Furies hockey following the glorious outcome of the CBHA Nationals, each successive season saw Prevost add to her legacy as one of the franchise’s stalwarts. Considering that it also marked a degree of rebuilding, a constant influx of new talent, Prevost’s presence was one of continuity, providing a linkage to the Clarkson Cup team, while cementing her status as a key component of the leadership structure.
Undoubtedly, the final four seasons allowed for numerous new milestones. In addition to reaching the vaunted 100 career games played plateau during the 2017-18 season, part of an exclusive sorority in franchise history, Prevost’s athletic journey also came full circle.
The date of January 20, 2018 is one that shall forever remain etched in Prevost’s memory, as the Furies challenged Les Canadiennes de Montreal at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in her hometown of Sarnia. Despite Les Canadiennes prevailing by a 7-3 tally in the 45th meeting between the two franchises, the chance for Prevost, a member of the Sarnia-Lambton Sports Hall of Fame, to showcase her skills in front of friends and family on a local scale was one that held tremendous meaning.
Although the 2017-18 season saw the Furies miss the playoffs, it was also a season defined by expansion in China. Allowing Prévost and her teammates the opportunity to compete against the likes of the Kunlun Red Star and the Vanke Rays in the city of Shenzhen, it affirmed her status as a world class athlete. During the latter half of Prévost’s career in Furies blue and white, there was also a significant focus developing into an elite competitor in the sporting and cultural phenomenon known as CrossFit, entering numerous regional and national competitions.
Qualifying for the 2019 CrossFit World Championships, held in Madison, Wisconsin, also the home of the Badgers, it provided Prevost with serendipity, the feeling once again of coming full circle. Finishing 13th overall, placing first among Canadian-born competitors, the event provided a silver lining to a dark cloud engulfed by the closure of the CWHL, just days after the Calgary Inferno captured the 2019 Clarkson Cup Finals.
Considering that the 2018-19 Furies season was one which featured the arrival of celebrated rookie talent such as Sarah Nurse, Shea Tiley, Melissa Channell and Brittany Howard, all indications were a very bright future. Indubitably, the prospect of such talent propelling a return to the Clarkson Cup Finals within a year or two was not only reasonable, it could have signalled the crowning touch to Prevost’s celebrated career.
Certainly the sense of celebration generated powerful emotions for Prevost as Sarnia’s French Cultural Centre Jolliet recognized her impact as a local hero with a ceremony on November 16, 2019. Honoring an astounding 11 national championships won in a series of sports including ball and ice hockey, CrossFit, soccer, plus taekwondo, the honour solidified her standing as a once-in-a-lifetime type of athlete, definitely in the same conversation as the likes of Babe Didrickson-Zaharias and fellow Canadian Lionel Conacher.
With a tinge of consolation, Prevost managed to reach the CWHL’s Century Club in career points before the end, finishing with a very respectable 108 points. Worth noting, Prevost was among five players in the 2018-19 CWHL season to reach the Century Club. Among them was teammate Natalie Spooner, Calgary Inferno snipers Brianne Jenner and Rebecca Johnston, along with former CWHL All-Star Jess Jones from the Markham Thunder.
Fittingly, the milestone took place against Les Canadiennes, her first team, known then by the sobriquet Stars. With a two-game series on January 5-6, 2019, launching the New Year, Prevost logged points in each game. Scoring against Emerance Maschmeyer in the opening game, reaching 99 points, the following day would see Prevost become one of only 25 players with 100 career points.
Trailing Les Canadiennes by a 5-1 mark, Jess Vella tipped in Prevost’s shot in the latter half of the third period to trim their lead. Although Shannon Stewart would place her name on the score sheet, providing hope for a comeback, it was not meant to be, as the Furies were vanquished in a visceral 6-3 final.
While Prevost balances her current obligations as an educator with sights set on reaching the 2020 CrossFit Worlds, the memories made in the paraphernalia of the Furies remains a strong source of comfort. Although the on-ice heroics certainly encompass a significant aspect of her athletic identity, the camaraderie and sense of enjoyment off the ice remain just as prevalent, weaving a terrific tapestry of highly enjoyable elements truly treasured by a gracious Prevost,
“Furies have the most fun so I am certainly missing the girls and the laughs in the locker room. Toronto always has a great organization with amazing volunteers and support staff. I am really proud to have been a member of the Toronto Furies for seven years. I will never forget my time with this team.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”