In a season that has seen Les Canadiennes de Montreal boast an exceptional rookie class, its centerpiece may be Katia Clement-Heydra. Selected in the first round of the 2015 CWHL Draft, the former recipient of the Brodrick Trophy (which honors the finest player in Canadian Interuniversity Sport) brings swift skating and smart playmaking abilities.
As Clement-Heydra looks forward to the second half of the season, she does so with the anticipation of a career milestone. Named to the second annual CWHL All-Star Game, which shall take place at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on January 23, she is one of 12 players making their debut at the event.
Having made her CWHL debut on October 17, 2015, a home ice tilt with the Brampton Thunder, she would log her first career point with Les Canadiennes the following day. Scoring a goal in a 5-2 win on October 18, it would contribute towards a series sweep, providing Les Canadiennes with a strong start to their season.
Of note, Clement-Heydra’s goal would serve as the first of the game, scored at the 11:15 mark. Scoring on Brampton goaltender Liz Knox, the first-ever rookie goaltender to start a Clarkson Cup championship game, the assists were logged by Ann-Sophie Bettez, a former teammate with the McGill Martlets and Audrey Morand.
Her first CWHL goal would signify the beginning of a memorable run, as Clement-Heydra would register a five-game scoring streak. She quickly displayed the skills that made her a first round selection and a significant piece of the franchise’s future. During said streak, she would log one goal and four assists, while Les Canadiennes enjoyed a solid 4-1-0 mark.
While all first-year players undergo an adjustment to the CWHL, it proved to be an enjoyable one for Clement-Heydra. Of note, she is one of several McGill Martlets alumnae that have suited up for Les Canadiennes this year. Among the former Martlets that are now wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge include the likes of team captain Cathy Chartrand, also a captain with McGill, elite scorer and fellow Brodrick Trophy winner Ann-Sophie Bettez, plus the likes of All-World goaltender Charline Labonte, Leslie Oles and Jordanna Peroff.
Taking into account that Clement-Heydra called them all teammates with McGill, even winning a national championship with them, the result is a familiarity that has extended to the CWHL. As a side note, Bettez, Chartrand and Labonte all served in coaching capacities after graduating from McGill, retaining strong ties to the program.
“I think what makes my adjustment to the team a lot easier is that half my team are former teammates. The McGill culture is really set here; teaching speed, physical and some of that legacy makes it easier.”
Humbled by the All-Star Game selection, she is one of nine members of Les Canadiennes to earn the nod. Along with Kim Deschenes, a formal rival at the CIS level with Les Carabins, they are the only two Canadiennes to make their All-Star Game debut.
The chance to grace the ice at Air Canada Centre is one that Clement-Heydra is very eager to enjoy. As the game continues to grow, highlighted locally for her by her CWHL team’s support from the NHL’s Canadiens, the chance to grace NHL ice herself provides more than just a major league feeling. It helps set a standard that all the women of the CWHL are collaborating towards,
“My first reaction (about being named) was surprise. I was not expecting this at all. I was happy and honored to be considered one of the league’s All-Stars. Hopefully one day, every game will be like that (on NHL ice). It would be a great feeling.
Having an opportunity to be with all the best players in Canada right now is what I am most looking forward to. The experience of that weekend to feel like a real pro does not happen too often.”
As a member of Les Canadiennes, there is no shortage of exceptional world-class players on its roster. For a first-year player like Clement-Heydra, working tirelessly to carve her own bright future, she is in awe of such talent. The privilege of calling Winter Games medalists such as Julie Chu, Charline Labonte, Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin and Lauriane Rougeau teammates on Les Canadiennes is one that has served as more than just a highlight in her inaugural season, but a tremendous source of inspiration.
“To play with world-class players pushes me to be my 100% best. To watch them at practice, you try to work as hard as them. They make everyone around us better.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from https://www.facebook.com/LesCanadiennes/timeline