Genevieve Bannon poised to be Draft Day Gem for Les Canadiennes

With their first pick of the 2018 CWHL Draft, Les Canadiennes de Montreal acquired a highly dependable skater possessing both big-game experience and strong playmaking abilities. Enjoying a sterling collegiate career where she emerged as a key contributor towards the Clarkson Golden Knights capturing a pair of NCAA Frozen Four championships, the prized pinnacle of playing professionally in her home province is one step closer to becoming a fait accompli for Genevieve Bannon.

Raised in the Montreal suburb of Candiac, Quebec, the 5-8 forward, spent the 2017-18 season competing with Goteborg HC in Sweden. On the other side of the Atlantic, Bannon displayed a remarkable offensive flair. Amassing 53 points in 41 games played, her strong playmaking abilities resulted in a solid 38 assists, simultaneously contributing to an expanding legacy of Canadian-born talents shining on European ice.

Bannon’s international experience also includes a milestone akin to so many other members of Les Canadiennes; the prestige of wearing the Hockey Canada jersey. Gracing the ice at the 2013 IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds in Heinola and Vierumäki, Finland, Bannon was part of a gold medal winning roster, one of three players from Quebec, including Catherine Daoust and Catherine Dubois. As a side note, U18 teammates Halli Krzyzaniak, Eden Murray, Kimberly Newell and Sarah Nurse were also part of the 2018 CWHL Draft Class.

While such an exciting milestone supplied Bannon with a lifetime of memories, the golden glories were prologue for a pivotal four-year career filled with numerous triumphs at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. Donning the number 9 in the Clarkson Green and Gold, in tribute to her favourite hockey player, legendary Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Bannon captured a Frozen Four title in her freshman season (2013-14).

Playing alongside future CWHL draft picks such as Erin Ambrose, Renata Fast, Erica Howe, Shannon MacAulay, Cayley Mercer and Jamie Lee Rattray on that championship roster, Bannon joins a sensational sorority of hockey luminaries making the exciting leap into the professional ranks. Of note, her sophomore season saw another unique linkage to the CWHL. Joining the coaching staff were a pair of Clarkson Cup champions, Meghan Duggan, who hoisted the coveted Cup in 2013 with the Boston Blades, while Britni Smith, scored the Cup-clinching tally in 2014 with the Toronto Furies.

Over the last four years, the number of Golden Knights alumnae that have made inroads in CWHL hockey is quickly emerging as one of the league’s most recent legacies. From the likes of Howe and Rattray participating with Team Red in the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game, to the defensive duo of Ambrose and Fast being drafted in the same year by the Toronto Furies, other notable alumnae in league play include Lauren Dahm of the Worcester Blades while Mercer starred overseas in China during the Vanke Rays inaugural season.

Graduating from Clarkson in 2017 with her second national championship, it served as Bannon’s finest hour. Defeating the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2017 Frozen Four championship game, recording a pair of assists on goals scored by Savannah Harmon and Mercer, part of a 3-0 blanking. Complementing the euphoria of winning a championship included a pair of honors for Bannon, including a nod to the ECAC Second Team All-Star team, along with a selection to the NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament Team. During such a memorable senior season, which also saw Bannon serve as an assistant captain, she amassed 53 points, placing second on the team.

The championship game also proved to continue the theme of unique connections that defined Bannon’s career in Potsdam. From the outset, former Montreal Stars goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens was between the pipes for the opposing Badgers. In addition, Sarah Nurse, claimed second overall by the Toronto Furies in the 2018 CWHL Draft, was among the Badgers’ leaders on offense.

Adding to the sense of coincidence was the fact that the Golden Knights’ first game of that championship season was an exhibition tilt against Montreal’s Concordia Stingers. Not only have the Stingers recently produced a crop of draft picks for Les Canadiennes, but their head coach is franchise legend Julie Chu, who won three Cups with the Stars/Canadiennes franchise.

Worth noting, Bannon is joined by goaltender Shea Tiley as Golden Knights greats that are part of the 2018 CWHL Draft class, both looking to stake their claim in league lore. Although Tiley shall take on the role of opponent this season, selected sixth overall by the Toronto Furies, there is a much more profound Clarkson connection related to this pick.

Last season, the Furies shipped Ambrose to Les Canadiennes in the aftermath of her release from Canada’s Centralization Camp. Reaping a bounty of draft picks in exchange, the Furies also obtained Les Canadiennes’ first round pick in 2018, which proved to be the sixth pick overall. Not only was Tiley technically traded for Ambrose, a former teammate at Clarkson, Bannon’s entry into the professional hockey ranks allows her the opportunity to call Ambrose a teammate once again. Such familiarity should result in strong on-ice chemistry, making the adjustment to the CWHL much more enjoyable for a pair of players both entering their first full seasons with the bleu, blanc et rouge.

Although Les Canadiennes offense currently features two of the world’s finest forwards in Marie-Philip Poulin and Hilary Knight, the acquisition of Bannon provides a significant depth to the offense. As demonstrated at Clarkson, Bannon not only possesses strong playmaking abilities, capable of feeding the puck to skilled scorers, which Les Canadiennes have no shortage of, her greatest asset may be her willingness to learn and grow.

In three successive seasons with Clarkson, Bannon continued to set career highs in assists and points, reaching lofty career totals of 101 assists and 150 points, respectively. For a Montreal franchise looking to become the first-ever to win five Clarkson Cups, Bannon’s big game experience may be the suitable fit to make such ambitions an historic reality, bringing a consistency that has made her a valued teammate and significant asset on every team that she has skated for.

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