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Storybook finish for Stingers captain Audrey Belzile

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One of the finest players to wear the Concordia colours over the last decade, the hallmarks of Audrey Belzile’s career involved a combination of dedication and perseverance. Constantly setting a positive example, her work ethic encompassing strong leadership, she first established herself as a hockey hero in 2015, when she scored the gold medal clinching goal for Team Québec in women’s ice hockey at the 2015 Canada Winter Games, the first gold for La Belle Province in tournament history.  

Undoubtedly, Belzile’s arrival at Concordia proved to be a critical factor in propelling the program back to Nationals prominence. Escaping from the doldrums, a fascinating rebuild destined to become a bridge to the glories of yesteryear, Belzile’s presence added to the growing theme of optimism.  With 18 points in her first Stingers season (2016-17), joined by Brigitte Laganiere and Alexandra Nikolidakis on the RSEQ All-Rookie Team, the program found its gem in Belzile.

Skating alongside the likes of Rosalie Begin-Cyr, Emmy Fecteau, Laganiere, and Stephanie Lalancette, among others, inspired by the presence of head coach Julie Chu, the pieces were in place for the Stingers to assemble the championship puzzle. Gaining RSEQ First Team All-Star honors in 2019, serving as affirmation of Belzile’s promise as an impact player, her focus always remained on the team’s success.

With Belzile’s fifth season (2020-21) wiped out due to pandemic concerns, an opportunity to return in the autumn of 2021 proved to be a blessing. Earning the team captaincy, it signified an honour perfectly suited to provide a highly positive tone to begin her final season. A role proudly accepted with a heightened sense of responsibility and prestige, the C on her maroon and gold jersey served as a constant reminder of her commendable sense of devotion. 

“For me, it was an honour. The captaincy is not decided by the coaches, it is decided by a team vote. This is really important because it showed that the team had confidence in me.” 

Another show of confidence during the season also brought validation to Belzile’s career. Named to the Canadian contingent scheduled to participate at the 2021 Winter Universiade in Lucerne, Switzerland, the prospect of wearing the Maple Leaf brought tremendous prestige. 

Sadly, the event never materialized as pandemic concerns caused its cancellation, jubilation replaced by desolation. Taking into account that several members of the Stingers coaching staff once played internationally, Belzile merited the experience, one that would have placed her on a higher plane of program elites. Despite the call to Canada representing an intriguing what if, remaining gracious stands as another extension of the class and dignity she brings to any team aligned with. 

“To be named to the team was such an honour. The event features some of the best athletes. Although it was cancelled, finding out that I was named to Team Canada was highly memorable. It is a great privilege.”

With the Golden Path trophy marking the glorious end to such a great career, highlighted for Belzile by scoring the third goal of the game in a convincing 4-0 shoutout over the OUA’s Nipissing Lakers, resulting in the first national championship for the Stingers since 1999, it marked only half of a much more compelling narrative. In a season that saw six Stingers gain RSEQ All-Stars, with Belzile earning a place on the Second Team, just as relevant involved the RSEQ postseason title.

Defeating the cross-town rival McGill Martlets, featuring Brodrick Trophy winner Jade Downie-Landry, a series sweep saw the Stingers prevail by a cumulative score of 7-1, Belzile recording an assist in the opening game, followed by the final goal in the second game. The victory set an important tone heading into Nationals, instilling the belief that the Golden Path Trophy was highly possible. Boasting both the conference and National championship, this rare double holds a treasured place towards the conclusion of Belzile’s on-ice odyssey in the Stingers jersey. 

“I think it is my biggest, and proudest, moment. We not only won the gold medal at Nationals, but the RSEQ playoff title. To win both championships in one season is a dream come true. I am so proud of my group that we did it. We worked really hard. To finish my career like this is an incredible feeling.”  

Glowing from the celebrated storybook finish, the raising of the Golden Path Trophy in her final game, representing the end of her rainbow, its glorious effect will not erode. Gaining entry into the pantheon of Stingers sporting greats, Belzile also finds fulfillment beyond the frozen perimeter. Finding motivation and a more profound sense of purpose, the enjoyment of six years as a student-athlete allowed a jubilant Belzile more than an opportunity to extend her competitive endeavors. With tremendous maturity, reflections on such a magical time are defined by the theme of growth, elements that are poised to serve her well beyond Concordia. Whether it be as a coach, professional athlete or in the workplace, all signs point to further success, grateful for the summits reached, and the confidence gained,

“What I enjoyed most about playing at Concordia was the growth you gain as an individual and player. We enjoyed playing hockey and give back to the community. As a whole, the experience makes you a better person.” 

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated” 

Featured image photo credit: Kwabena Oduro (Obtained from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/concordia-stingers-womens-hockey-national-championship-1.6401751)

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