While both possess different backgrounds in the sport, the year 2015 represented an opportunity for Chantal Larocque and Jessie McCann to collaborate in a unified effort. Having both played a role in Canada’s gold medal effort, playing as linemates at the 2015 ISBHF Women’s Worlds; the two followed it up with an appearance at the CBHA Nationals.
As the ISBHF Worlds were contested in Zug, Switzerland, expectations were high for Canada to successfully defend its gold medal. Yielding only positive results, Canada exceeded all expectations, capturing its second straight gold. Of note, McCann earned the assist on Canada’s first goal of the event, scored by Alicia Blomberg. She would follow it up later in the game with a two goal performance, in an eventual 10-0 victory against Great Britain.
Also scoring a goal in the gold medal game against Czech Republic, part of a 5-1 triumph, she finished tied for ninth with Blomberg in tournament scoring, among five Canadians who ranked in the top ten. Upon reflecting on their gold medal outcome, McCann, who had worked for several years for such an empowering opportunity was making her debut for Team Canada. She proudly proclaimed,
“It was the best feeling in the world. I was set on it for a long time. It is always special to play for a national team, no matter what sport you are playing. It is a very big deal.”
Larocque, who was competing with Canada for the second time in her career, also added her name to the scoreboard in the opening win against Great Britain, scoring a goal and an assist. In addition, she would log an assist on the gold-medal clinching goal scored by Alicia Blomberg in a 5-1 triumph against the Czech Republic.
She had credited the strong team chemistry as a key factor. “I think we really had a close team. Spending the time working together (towards gold), it was the experience of a lifetime. It meant a lot for me to be part of it.”
Of note, Larocque’s heroics add to a great family legacy in the game. Of note, her younger sister, Jocelyne Larocque competed for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, capturing the gold medal. In addition, both have also played together for the Manitoba Maple Leafs of the WWHL, and were part of the Manitoba Rage (Chantal was the team captain), who competed at the 2014 edition of the CBHA Nationals.
At this year’s edition of the CBHA Nationals, the presence of the World Championship team was evident throughout. From Team Canada head coach Diana Brown serving as the bench boss for the eventual CBHA national champion Toronto Shamrocks, to every competing team consisting of at least one member from Team Canada on their roster, national pride was definitely on-hand.
Although having to call their Team Canada mates opponents at the CBHA Nationals was a different experience, Larocque acknowledged that there were no tensions on the floor. Feelings of fun and mutual respect defined the time when one of their fellow gold medalists was on the opposite end of the floor,
“I think it is a lot of fun on the floor. It is fun playing against each other. When we came together at the (2015) Worlds, we played as a team.”
That spirit of teamwork was highly evident as Larocque and McCann suited up for Team Manitoba. With the prestige of world champion on their hockey resumes, it was only natural that they were looked upon to provide leadership. Such a sense of responsibility was not lost on Larocque, “We try to bring the team together but everyone gets along well.”
Although McCann, who hails from Saint John, New Brunswick has also played for Newfoundland United in a past CBHA national event, her role as a pickup player did not diminish the pride she felt playing for Manitoba. In the aftermath of the 2014 CBHA Nationals, she was named to the All-Star Team, providing Manitoba with a remarkable acquisition.
Leading Team Manitoba with five points in preliminary round play, Larocque ranked third overall, trailing Danielle Ring. McCann’s best performance was a three-point output in an opening day contest against the BC Benders. In that same game, Larocque also contributed a solid three point effort.
Employing a team-first approach and a strong work ethic, McCann was optimistic that her fundamentally sound game would make a profound statement, “I do not wear a letter but I step up when I can and hope the others follow by example.”
Although Team Manitoba did not qualify for the medal round, McCann was gracious at the opportunity to not only extend her season, but proudly represent Manitoba at such a high level of play. As a friendship certainly emerged from their cherished time as teammates, McCann was proud to play alongside Larocque once again. Akin to Larocque, she also acknowledged the feelings of respect that defined the CBHA experience,
“We were linemates in the worlds. To be able to come here and play (at the nationals), it is awesome. It is all competition when we play at the national level, we all try to win. Yet, we like to joke around but we definitely want to beat them.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from: http://zug2015.com/en/teams/women/group-5/can-canada/