Originally published on: https://canadafootballchat.com/advent-of-pei-island-demons-brings-with-it-strong-leadership/
With another season of MWFL football looming on the horizon, it heralds the beginning of an exciting new chapter. Marking an exciting first in its unfolding history, the league welcomes the province of Prince Edward Island into the fold for 2019.
Identified by the daunting nomenclature “Island Demons”, PEI’s contingent signifies the fifth in league history. Taking to the gridiron for its inaugural season against the Capital Area (Fredericton) Lady Gladiators, the Halifax Xplosion, the Moncton Vipers, and the dynastic Saint John Storm, a significant element of the league’s heritage already defines the early lore of the Demons.
Among the architects of this expansion, franchise is Meagan Ferguson, who is also a league alumna. Possessing a remarkable athletic background, which included elite competition in ice hockey, Ferguson was also part of the fascinating female football movement in Atlantic Canada, having once graced the gridiron with the Lady Gladiators.
Currently occupied as a sports psychologist and an educator, Ferguson also gained a Master’s Degree from the University of Ottawa, specializing in …., Throughout her academic and professional pursuits, the love of sport never faded. Returning to PEI, the prospect of bringing female football to her home province was both promising yet potentially challenging. Finding a fellow enthusiast in a familiar face, their shared interest in sport served as the catalyst towards fulfillment a mutual vision,
“Following my Master’s degree, I had moved home (PEI) to establish my applied sport psych/mental performance consulting business and teach at Holland College. A former college classmate of mine and I, Richard Lush, had met for lunch one afternoon to see if we could get this going.
Him having great coaching plus playing plus management background, and my previous experience in the league, we felt this could be a great opportunity to provide females 18+ a new exciting option- to continue playing sport following high school, or a new opportunity to learn a new sport with new faces!
PEI has groomed some younger girls though our flag program, and has had some girls playing with boys in our contact high school league. Richard and I wanted to start this team to give those girls a place to play following high school, but also show girls who have never played that this option will be here for them to pursue.”
Taking on a role as the club’s co-founder, serving in a managerial capacity, this compelling chapter is destined to mirror the journey of another celebrated alum among the Lady Gladiators. Having also served in an administrative function in the MWFL, Cheryl O’Leary was also prevalent on the offensive line. Along with the treasured opportunity to serve in a coaching mentorship role with Canada’s national women’s team, working under the tutelage of Olivier Eddie, O’Leary’s dedication to the game encompasses an inspiration that Ferguson is destined to match.
Undoubtedly, Ferguson’s promising efforts with the Gladiators not only pays homage to O’Leary’s body of work, it positively demonstrates how the players of the MWFL can positively shape the league’s destiny, taking on key role after hanging up their helmets.
Just as instrumental in this compelling beginning is the aforementioned Lush, who shall take on the momentous position of first head coach in franchise history. Bringing a well-rounded background and a solid sporting resume, including a Vanier Cup with the University of Manitoba, and a spot on the PEI Aboriginal Sports Circle, the feeling of making history is one that has defined his enthusiasm for the position. While the lunch meeting stands as one of the defining moments of his early tenure in the formation of the Island Demons, his leadership also shines through, quick to recognize two other prominent figures in the realization of a football dream,
“This all started with an idea, and then it became a lunch meeting with Meagan Ferguson, and then the mass preparations, recruitment, and campaigning to make this all possible.
Here we are almost a year later and we have finally done something Historic for PEI, as this will mark the first time in PEI History a Female Tackle Football team will occur!
Being a part of this amazing experience has been remarkable; the ladies have been so fantastic with regards to wanting to learn the sport, fundraising, and overall helping this program become a staple of female athletics in PEI.
Without the help of Lacey Mary and Lexie Mireault, this program would not be where we are today, and we are all so proud of the program we have worked so hard over the past year!”
As opening kickoff approaches, the opportunity to have seen an idea for a new football reach fruition has resulted in a labour of love for Ferguson. Just as important is the chance to allow a new community of aspiring female footballers to experience the blend of jubilation, achievement and adrenaline that comes from gracing the gridiron, staking an assertive claim in sporting equality.
Having obtained some very inspiring life lessons from her time as a competitor with the Lady Gladiators, Ferguson is optimistic that the positive values of leadership, teamwork, respect and self-esteem shall serve as a boon in the Island’s sporting community. While the Island Demons brings her athletic endeavors full circle, the true victory for Ferguson is the chance to foster friendships, provide encouragement while instilling an inspiring confidence,
“Finally, I can only speak for myself, but one thing I am excited for is to see empowered women empower (other) women. I have been an elite multi-sport athlete my entire life, and no other sport has ever clicked for me the way football has; and I see and hear the same feedback from many women around the league.
Football teaches you a lot about yourself (self-awareness), and teaches you a lot about others (group cohesion). As a certified mental performance consultant (applied sport psych), I am fascinated with motivation, teamwork and sport confidence. I personally feel that football pushes limits and creates possibilities unlike any other team sport.
Knowing that female sport participation drops dramatically, especially following high school, our hope is that the Island Demons can give girls, and women, an option to learn the game and love to play it.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
All-Time First Team
Jayna Hefford: Brampton Thunder
Caroline Ouellette: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Marie-Philip Poulin: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Molly Engstrom: Brampton Thunder, Boston Blades
Catherine Ward: Montreal Stars
Charline Labonte: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Patrick Rankine: Montreal Stars
All-Time Second Team
Jennifer Botterill: Mississauga Warriors, Toronto Furies
Noemie Marin: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Kelli Stack: Boston Blades, Kunlun Red Star
Cathy Chartrand: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Becky Kellar: Burlington Barracudas
Kim St. Pierre: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Digit Murphy: Boston Blades, Kunlun Red Star
All-Time Third Team
Ann-Sophie Bettez: Montreal Stars, Canadiennes de Montreal
Brianna Decker: Boston Blades, Calgary Inferno
Hilary Knight: Boston Blades, Canadiennes de Montreal
Laura Fortino: Brampton/Markham Thunder
Annie Guay, Montreal Stars
Sami Jo Small: Mississauga Warriors, Toronto Furies
Dany Brunet: Canadiennes de Montreal
Meghan Agosta: Montreal Stars
Rebecca Johnston: Toronto Furies, Calgary Inferno
Natalie Spooner: Toronto Furies
Sommer West: Mississauga Warriors, Burlington Barracudas
Kacey Bellamy: Boston Blades, Calgary Inferno
Jocelyne Larocque: Brampton/Markham Thunder
Shannon Moulson: Burlington Barracudas, Toronto Furies
Meaghan Mikkelson: Calgary Inferno
Delayne Brian, Calgary Inferno
Liz Knox: Brampton/Markham Thunder
Emerance Maschmeyer: Calgary Inferno, Canadiennes de Montreal
Pat Cocklin: Brampton Thunder, Burlington Barracudas
The fascinating backstory for this match dates back to the 2018 edition of Summer Slam, as a jealous Becky Lynch attacked Charlotte Flair in retaliation following Flair’s triumph in a triple threat match for the Smack Down Women’s Championship. Although Flair would drop the title to Lynch at Hell in a Cell, setting the stage for a champion vs champion match against Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey at one of WWE’s signature events, the Survivor Series.
Such an epic match was not meant to be, as a knee injury shelved Lynch, allowing Flair an opportunity to challenge Rousey for the title. Despite Rousey retaining the title, Flair duplicated Lynch’s jealous attack from Summer Slam, assaulting Rousey with a barrage of weapons, simultaneously igniting a new rivalry that was not likely to vanish.
Although Rousey was exclusive to the Raw brand, while Flair and Lynch were among the most recognizable stars of Smack Down, the escalation of the rivalries between all three meant that the brands continued to blend. In a three-way match between Flair, Lynch and Asuka for the Smack Down Women’s Championship at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs event, the Rowdy One’s interference added to the increased intensity. With Asuka emerging as Smack Down’s women’s champion, its consequences enabled Flair and Lynch to focus their growing hatred towards Rousey.
With Lynch aggravating her knee injury at Royal Rumble, she managed to secure a spot in a title match at Wrestle Mania 35. Fittingly, it was Flair and Lynch among the last two contestants in the women’s Royal Rumble match, which featured 30 competitors from the women’s division. After eliminating Flair, Lynch made the bold decision to challenge Rousey for her title.
Before Wrestle Mania, the dramatics among the three reached a new level, as Fastlane saw the three unexpectedly back in the ring together. With Lynch removed from the match against Rousey, due to refusing Stephanie McMahon’s orders of having her knee medically assessed, she battled through a gruelling limp, challenging Flair in another chapter of their rivalry. The outcome of her Fastlane match resulted in suffering an attack by Rousey, with Flair deemed the loser by disqualification.
Afterwards, a decision was made to have Lynch and Flair challenge Rousey in a triple threat match at Wrestle Mania 35. Marking the first time that a women’s match became the main event at Wrestle Mania, it propelled all three into a new level of relevance in WWE lore, simultaneously adding lustre to the growing prestige of the Women’s Revolution.
Taking into account that Rousey first established herself as a pop culture icon after her dominance in UFC, there was a unique tinge of coincidence in the fact that Brock Lesnar, also a former main event competitor in the octagon, was on the WrestleMania card. Participating in a singles match against Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship
Part of an empowering weekend for the Women’s Revolution. During the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center, Senior Director of Talent Relations Sue Aitchison was bestowed the honor of the 2019 Warrior Award, a fitting reward for her tireless efforts with both the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the inspiring WrestleMania Reading Challenge program.
In addition, three female competitors gained entry into the Hall. The first female individual inductee announced was Torrie Wilson, while Chyna (Joanie Laurer) gained posthumous induction. With D-Generation X gaining entry, Chyna was recognized for her contributions to the group. Lastly, Luna Vachon was inducted in the Legacy category.
A sold-out 82,265 crowd, with enthusiastic fans hailing from all US states, plus 68 countries descended upon MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the NFL’s Giants and Jets. Akin to the drama of gladiators clashing in the coliseums of Ancient Rome, the energy in the Stadium served as a venue worthy of this titanic main event, a winner takes all triple threat match for both titles. Adding lustre to the magnitude of this landmark match was female rock legend Joan Jett performing her song “Bad Reputation” live as the ring entrance theme for Rousey.
Surprisingly, the match only began at midnight ET, as the previous card lasted approximately seven and a half hours. With a crowd that was visibly exhausted, Rousey was visibly bleeding from her elbow, compounded by grotesque bruising on her legs. In addition, her head had hit the floor after receiving a dropkick from Lynch that saw her land outside the ring. While Flair was constantly favoring her right knee throughout the match, she was a warrior, landing a Spanish Fly for one of the highlights of this winner take all affair.
The ending of the match extending the theme of high adrenaline action, adding to the anticipation of who would emerge with both titles. As Flair placed Rousey in her patented Figure-Eight Leg Lock, it was broken up by Lynch. In a rare show of collaboration, Lynch and Rousey would join forces to put Flair through a table, an action that proved to put the match out of reach for the second generation superstar. Afterwards, Rousey looked to take advantage, placing Lynch in the Piper’s Pit. Much to her surprise, Lynch displayed a tremendous poise, placing her into a roll-up pinfall for the win.
Quickly identifying herself by the sobriquet “Becky Two Belts”, the SmackDown Women’s Championship is the third in her career, tying a WWE record. Surprisingly, the Raw Women’s Championship is the first in her stellar career. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Lynch is the first competitor in WWE history to hold both belts at the same time.
Covered by numerous news outlets, including CNN, it was testament to the relevance of the main event’s stature, and the growing impact of women in sport. Other women’s matches on the card included the Women’s Battle Royal on the Kickoff portion of the show. With Ember Moon returning from a six-month absence due to injury, she landed an Eclipse on Mandy Rose for the highlight of the Battle Royal. Among the notable eliminations, Dana Brooke managed to toss out Riott Squad members Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott. As the event progressed, Logan appeared poised to win, as she eliminated Sonia Deville and Asuka. In an upset finish, Carmella, who was deviously hiding outside the ring, returned to the ring and executed a super kick on Logan for the win.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, a pair of Australian star wreslters who are identified by the sobriquet “The Iconics”, experienced a major breakthrough in their careers, winning the Women’s Tag Team Championship. With four teams battling for the tag team gold, the Iconics pinned the Boss ‘N Hug Connection, featuring Bayley and Sasha Banks, by pinfall. Legendary Beth Phoenix & Natalya, a third generation wrestler, along with Nia Jax & Tamina, both having Polynesian roots, constituted the other half of the tag teams on-hand.
Among the most unique aspects of the match saw Natalya, whose uncle, Bret Hart, was among the 2019 Hall of Fame inductees, placed a sharpshooter, her uncle’s signature move, on both Banks and Bayley at the same time. Later in the match, Jax and Tamina, whose father is the late Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, placed double Samoan Drops on the Iconics.
Recovering from the Drops, the Iconics displayed impressive synergy to end the match. With Bayley on the receiving end of Phoenix’s Grand Slam, it looked like the match was approaching its climax. Not seen by Phoenix, Kay had slapped her bottom, signifying a tag to enter the ring. This would prove to be a highly strategic move as Royce broke up Phoenix’s pin on Bayley. Proceeding to throw Phoenix out of the ring, Royce’s partner Kay capitalized on the advantage, covering a dazed Bayley for the win in front of an enthusiastic crowd that showered their approval for the new champs.
Comprising the signature rivalry in the Legends Football League, it was only fitting that opening kickoff for their 10th anniversary season involved the gridiron goddesses of the Los Angeles Temptation and the Seattle Mist. Contested at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, known affectionately as “The Pirate Ship”, these two legacy franchises set an exciting tone for the season to come, with a tightly contested game that saw rivalries renewed.
When both rosters took to the field, fans could have been forgiven at the astonishing number of new faces. Among the defining themes of said season, the movement of star players throughout the league has altered the competitive structure, introducing an unprecedented opportunity for parity. As was quickly evidenced, the rosters of the Temptation and Mist were not immune to such compelling change.
From the outset, the host Temptation featured the legendary Anne “Showtime” Erler, a former franchise player for the Green Bay Chill and Saskatoon Sirens. Competing at the Defensive Back position, the statuesque Erler is reputed among the league’s greatest quarterbacks ever. Making her comeback after more than five seasons, she will certainly provide stability at the quarterback position should an injury befall starter Ashley Salerno.
Battling a smash mouth Mist defense that features Amber Camp and Shea Norton among others, Salerno refused to be intimidated. With the Mist entering the game as 9.5-point favorites, she employed a combination of toughness and scrambling ability, displaying a poise that was crucial in keeping the Temptation competitive against such odds.
Along with former Atlanta Steam competitor Nas Johnson, who inherited running back duties from Carmen Bourseau, the offense also featured the debut of Fuyuki Hamaguchi, the first Japanese player in league history. Just as prominent is the player that will certainly be the heartbeat of moving the offense. A former championship player with the Chicago Bliss, Hallie Jiskra, the new center for the Temptation, quickly displayed a rapport with Salerno.
Anchoring the Temptation defense was the determined Danielle Harvey, fearlessly challenging the Mist’s high octane offense, which featured a series of free agent acquisitions that were beginning their second stints with Seattle. KK Matheny, who led the Mist to a pair of Legends Cup titles replaced Michelle Angel, a Temptation alum who spent last season as Seattle’s starting quarterback, is orchestrating the offense. With Katie Whelan, newly inserted at the center position, experiencing an adjustment, it may need to be the biggest priority in keeping the offense efficient.
Of note, Matheny was among four free agent signings that departed the expansion Nashville Knights, who were led by Danika Brace, the first female head coach in LFL history. Joining Matheny are former LFL Most Valuable Player Randle, plus elite running backs Stevi “The Bull” Schnoor and Dominique Maloy, all back in Mist green after playing alongside Matheny with the Knights.
As the Mist employed their running game to full effect, fans and players at “The Pirate Ship” noticed another aspect in the franchise’s theme of reunion. Perhaps the most significant change was Chris Michaelson, a member of the LFL Hall of Fame, returning to the helm as Mist head coach. Replacing Eric Bellamy, who spent just one season in that capacity, he was visible on the sidelines, trying to keep his players motivated. Worth noting, former Mist legend Jessica Hopkins is also on Michaelson’s coaching staff, her acumen proving to be integral in a game that was a see-saw battle.
The final outcome would depend on which team made the fewest errors. Despite a valiant effort by the Temptation, they were not able to gain a win on home turf. Managing to emerge victorious by capitalizing on penalties, the Mist are likely to collide with the Temptation once again in the Western Conference Final.
Although some fans went on social media to voice their displeasure over some officiating calls, the season opener has proven to be a learning experience for the Temptation. Having held their own over a Mist offense that is considered the greatest in LFL history, mistake-free football shall be crucial in satisfying their ambitions of capturing their first title since 2011.
Undoubtedly, Harvey shall be one of the Temptation’s key players on defense as the season unfolds. Considering that Ogom Chijindu was released in the off-season, while the highly popular Megan Hanson departed for the Austin Acoustic, who qualified for the 2018 Legends Cup Finals, chemistry is destined to be critical for success on defense. The progress of rookie sensation TJ Anderson will also determine whether the defense shall be among the league’s finest.
Certainly, the Mist will be prepared to frustrate opposing teams throughout this season. While the club cannot succumb to the lofty expectations, any success may be pointed to another members in their distinguished class of free agent acquisitions. Landing the most prized player in the offseason, a legendary player with the Chicago Bliss that propelled the club into both popular culture and championship lore, Alli Alberts is now garbed in the Mist paraphernalia.
Having opposed the Mist in numerous Legends Cup Finals, she has also engaged in numerous on-turf wars against the Temptation. As a side note, her collision with Salerno during her rookie campaign remains the stuff of league legend. A consistent league leader in both receiving and defensive (interceptions, tackles) categories, Alberts’ familiarity in big game situations, bringing a highly effective versatility (a quality that Michaelson likes in his players), may prove to be the final piece of the Mist’s championship puzzle for 2019.
Originally published through ISBHF
Since the inception of elite female competition at the ISBHF World Championships, Canada has emerged as one of the premier countries, enjoying a podium finish in each event. Such consistency has also extended to Masters play, where the highly successful Canadian contingent has captured the first three gold medals in the event’s history, including the most recent, at the 2018 edition of the tournament in Bermuda.
Throughout this splendid chronicle, a unique linkage has enhanced the Canadian presence in both ISBHF World Championship and Masters competition. Boasting some of the best ball hockey talent to have emerged over the last decade, the Ottawa-Vanier Women’s Ball Hockey League (OVWBHL) has provided a seemingly endless supply of competition that have worn the Maple Leaf, representing a significant hallmark in its heritage.
Consistently producing a roster of elite talent that is among the top teams at the annual CBHA Nationals, the legacy of said teams assembled by the OVWBHL, whether it be the nomenclature of Ottawa Capitals, Ottawa Rebels or the Vanier Mooseheads, is part of a profound sequence of events, woven together into a brilliant tale of athletic magnitude. One that has seen an astounding number of its players represent Canada on the international stage.
The presence of the OVWBHL was most evident on Canada’s roster for the 2018 Masters. From the outset, Mandi Duhamel and Érika Pouliot, league veterans and alumnae of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s ice hockey program served on the coaching staff. Originally appointed to Team Canada as head coach, signifying Duhamel’s second consecutive stint in this capacity, commitment to her team took on the unforeseen yet inspiring role of an emergency player, racking up a solid four points, supplying leadership and competitive acumen.
With Pouliot assuming her duties, serving as acting head coach, the victorious results remained the same, as Canada rolled on, advancing to the gold medal game. As a side note, she once competed for Canada, capturing a gold medal at the 2013 edition of the ISBHF Worlds. Taking into account that several of the OVWBHL players on Canada’s roster called Pouliot a teammate in seasons past, most notably at the 2015 Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA) Nationals in a bronze medal outcome, her experience in big games was an essential asset in Bermuda.
“It was nice to represent Canada with some Ottawa local friends. The women’s ball hockey community is a small world and it was definitely fun to travel and shared that experience with my Ottawa friends. I am also lucky to have met the rest of the team who are all amazing people that I will keep contact with. I missed them all already!”
Undeniably, star players from the OVWBHL emerged as key contributors in the golden effort, just as essential in Canada’s success as Duhamel and Pouliot. An alum of Canada’s gold medal roster from the 2007 ISBHF Worlds, Isabelle Aubé continued to display her superlative skills, amassing six points en route to the Most Valuable Player Award.
Having called Aubé a long-time teammate at the OVWBHL level, donning the jersey of the Rebels squad, Stephanie Brunette-D’Souza proved to be just as efficient on the offense. With five points, there was also some synergy between the two, with Aubé earning assists on both of Brunette-D’Souza’s goals in tournament play.
Reflecting on her reaction upon the revelation that she was among numerous ladies from the OVWBHL that earned roster spots, it served to bring a heightened awareness of what it meant to hone her skills in the league along such world-class competitors, a label that was now fitting for her as well,
“I actually first learned about the Team Canada Masters team from my Ottawa teammate Isabelle Aubé. She is the one that encouraged me to apply for the team. So, when I found out I made it I contacted her immediately and shared my news! She had obviously also made the team so we were both ecstatic!
Then, I found out Nat and Kendra (Antony) were also successful. It was amazing to share this feeling over overwhelming joy with others close by! Sharing the emotion with others on social media is great, but sharing it face to face is a whole lot better. I was not only happy for myself but I was extremely proud of my fellow teammates (and Ottawa opponents), for which I have a lot of respect for as people and athletes!”
Despite Kendra Antony being unable to compete at the 2018 Masters, which would have meant four Ottawans on the roster, she still maintains a key connection. Along with Danika Smith, an alum of the Gee-Gees women’s ice hockey program, and a gold medalist at the 2013 ISBHF World Championships, they were part of Duhamel’s coaching staff in a winning effort in Banff, Alberta, site of the 2016 Masters. In addition to the aforementioned, Aubé, Brunette-D’Souza and Girouard were part of Canada’s roster in 2016.
Irrefutably, Girouard embodies the captivating connection between the ISBHF and OVWBHL, representing what is great about the league and the game. Holding an exceptional place in the unfolding history of modern female ball hockey, her domestic legacy involves the CBHA National Championship plus the honor of the Sarah Butterworth Memorial Award. Such excellent skills have also allowed her to excel internationally at the ISBHF Worlds and the Masters, winning gold in both events, respectively.
Among the longest serving, and most accomplished, players in the OVWBHL, Girouard displayed a tremendous consistency and reliability in Bermuda, emerging with an undefeated mark, complemented by Player of the Game recognition in the Gold Medal Game. Holding an esteemed place in the event’s unfolding legacy, as evidenced by her three gold medals, the achievement enhances a charismatic career including a collection of podium finishes at the ISBHF Worlds.
While the thrill of wearing the Maple Leaf remains a strong point of pride, her efforts have proven crucial to Canada’s success in Master’s play, a steadfast example of continuity. Commenting how the linkage to league and city alike enhances the jubilation of winning, adding a localized touch to an excellent gathering of ball hockey talent,
“It is always fun to play with these girls that I also call my friends. I am used to competing against them, so it is always an amazing experience to bring those strengths together and compete at an international level. Also two players on the men’s team are from Ottawa and so it was great to be able to share the winning experience with them.”
In addition to the aforementioned, notable names from the OVWBHL that have graced the slab internationally for Canada include the likes of Alicia Blomberg, Fannie Desforges, Elysia Desmiers, Jessica O’Grady, Jamie Lee Rattray and Danika Smith, just a fraction of such select competitors from Canada’s Capital Region that read like a who’s who of female ball hockey. Enhancing the league’s legacy is the fact that alumnae such as Melissa Boufounos plus Samantha Delenardo and Annalisa Mazzarello have also suited up for the likes of Greece and Italy in past ISBHF Worlds.
Worth noting, there is also a distinct and reciprocal element in the OVWBHL’s growing lore. Sara Seiler, who donned the jersey of her native Germany for women’s ice hockey at the 2014 Winter Games, is among the world-class women that have competed on the intense slab of the league, completing her legacy in Canada’s capital region as a prominent university ice hockey competitor.
Throughout this fascinating evolution, the pioneering presence of Shelley Callaghan furthered its impactful influence; involved in key leadership roles as the former President of the OVWBHL, and later, the Ontario Ball Hockey Federation (OBHF) and the Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA). As her integral ascent to prominence has run parallel with Canada’s standing as a revered ball hockey power, it was somewhat fitting that she was among the participants at the 2018 edition of the ISBHF Masters.
Such an event also allowed for a compelling connection, bringing the career of Callaghan full-circle, while enhancing another. Having played in the OVWBHL for nearly two decades, the highly talented Girouard, whose legacy has transcended generations, has called Callaghan both teammate and coach with the Vanier Mooseheads. Among their highlights with the club, one of their most cherished involved the gold medal at the 2014 CBHA Nationals, affirming their status as contemporaries in Canadian ball hockey.
Girouard’s journey towards her third consecutive Masters gold medal was certainly not without circumstance. Taking into account that the 2018 Masters resulted in two different Canadian rosters competing, the other hailing from New Tecumseth, Ontario, known by the sobriquet X-Treme, Girouard became an emergency replacement for this second entry.
While switching allegiances for one contest was surely a surreal experience, the most enduring aspect involved the treasured chance to call Callaghan a teammate once again. Rekindling both local and national glories as members of the Mooseheads, it was among a series of unique moments during competition in Bermuda.
“The locals were very friendly; the venue was incredible, the organizing committee and all the volunteers did an amazing job at keeping things rolling smoothly. Having a cool down by walking to the beach was swimming as a team in an unbelievable setting.
Having to dress for the other Canadian team (their goalie could not finish the game due to an injury) and reuniting as teammates with my best friend and forever Mooseheads Shelley Callaghan. Reuniting with my roommates, my family away from home. PLAYING BALL HOCKEY IN BERMUDA!”
Of note, Girouard shares the rare distinction of gold medals in both ISBHF World Championship and Masters play with Aubé. Fittingly, this duo enjoyed a significant haul of hockey hardware in Bermuda. While Aubé garnered MVP nods, Girouard earned recognition as the Most Outstanding Goaltender. Worth noting, along with British Columbia’s Silvia Traversa, they were part of a unique sorority of competitors that held roster spots on both Canada’s bronze medal team at the 2017 ISBHF Worlds, plus the gold medallist squad from the most recent Masters in Bermuda.
Statistically, Aubé was one of Canada’s leading scorers, providing an integral presence towards the path for gold. Tied for fifth with USA Blue’s Karen Levin in tournament scoring, each racking up a pair of goals, plus four assists for six points, she assembled a solid pair of multi-point performances.
During Canada’s victory against New Tecumseth X-Treme, the second Canadian-based team on-hand in Bermuda, Aubé registered two assists in an 8-1 victory. With a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win versus Team USA Red, there was a strong sense of emotion for the eventual tournament MVP.
Gaining the assist on the first goal of game, which Brunette D’Souza scored, it brought the feeling of representing Ottawa full-circle. Representing a proud achievement for Aubé, she displayed admirable leadership by encouraging Brunette D’Souza, a vaunted teammate in the OVWBHL to try out for the national team. Upon the revolution that she had qualified for the Canadian roster, there was an incredible feeling of pride for Aubé,
“Of course. BD is a very talented player and an even better person! She brings so much to the game on the slab and even more away from the rink! A class act individual that I would always want on my team!”
Suitably, the assembly of talent from Ottawa brought a combination of relevance and astuteness to Canada’s roster, creating an opportunity to thrive in another international scenario. Through the accumulation of success and triumph, the reputation of the OVWBHL in supplying talent of such prominence is truly immaculate.
While the game continues to grow on both of Canada’s coasts, with elite talent emerging from as far east as Newfoundland, while the province of Alberta mirrors its ice hockey brethren, producing a growing number of ball hockey superstars, the OVWBHL was the template upon which all others have evolved.
For Girouard, one of the beacons from a generation of impeccable achievers from the OVWBHL, simultaneously serving as a role model for teammates, locally and nationally, her series of achievements have enabled her to become one the game’s most decorated Canadian female goaltenders.
Reflecting on the most recent international experience, one akin to so many other events that Girouard has been part of, the 2018 Masters illustrated how the necessity to become acquainted quickly, while maintaining the values of collaboration and work ethic creates both chemistry and heart, are the most crucial elements in creating a tournament-winning team. While winning is certainly synonymous with Girouard, the return home from continued glories is a continued reminder of both, what and why, she plays for, a key chapter in a spectacular narrative of OVWBHL hockey that constitutes a greatness applicable to both civic and national pride.
“Oddly enough, in the big picture, I think winning as a National team makes the immediate winning experience so much more special than winning with my Ottawa teammates. When you have not met all your teammates until you get off the plane and arrive at the tournament you literally start from zero and have a few days to connect, create relationships that will allow you to mesh on and off the slab.
The fact that 19 people from across our nation can rally together and bring home the gold medal is such a special feeling. I feel like we won in all spheres of sports and sportsmanship! We bonded on and off the slab! We rose together when it was time because we all had the same goal in mind: win!
However, after it is all said and done and we are back in Ottawa, I do think it is special to be able to continue riding the high a little longer with my Ottawa teammates. It is definitely awesome to see that our city is creating great ball hockey players!”
”All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Last regular season goals in franchise history:
Boston Blades: Kate Leary, March 11, 2018 vs Markahm Thunder (assisted by kaitlin Spurling)
Brampton Thunder: Laura Stacey, (Birchard, Jones) Jamie Lee Rattray Shootout Goal, February 19, 2017 vs Boston Blades
Burlington Barracudas: Sommer West., March 11, 2012 vs Montreal Stars (unassisted)
Calgary Inferno: Katelyn Gosling, February 23, 2019 vs Kunlun Red Star (assisted by Zoe Hickel and Kacey Bellamy)
Canadiennes de Montreal: Hilary Knight, February 24, 2019 vs Markham Thunder (assisted by Karrell Emard and Jillian Saulnier)
Kunlun Red Star: Rachel Llanes, February 23, 2019 vs Calgary Inferno (assisted by Leah Lum and Melanie Jue)
Markham Thunder: Taylor Woods, February 26, 2019 vs Toronto Furies (unassisted). Also the last regular season goal in CWHL history.
Team Alberta: Emily Berzins, March 10, 2013 vs Montreal Stars, assisted by Meaghan Mikkelson and Chelsea Purcell (franchise changed name and color scheme to Calgary Inferno the following season)
Toronto Furies: Carolyne Prevost, February 26, 2019 vs Markham Thunder (assisted by Melissa Channell and Carlee Campbell)
Vanke Rays: Hanna Bunton, March 10, 2018 vs Kunlun Red Star (assisted by Cayley Mercer)
Worcester Blades: Kaitlin Spurling, February 24 vs Toronto Furies (assisted by Courtney Turner, Meghan Grieves)
Last game-winning regular season goals in franchise history:
Boston Blades: Taylor Wasylk, January 6, 2018 vs Toronto Furies (assisted by Casey Stathopoulos and Chelsey Goldberg)
Brampton Thunder: Jamie Lee Rattray Shootout Goal, February 19, 2017 vs Boston Blades
Burlington Barracudas: Ashley Stephenson, December 18, 2011 vs Toronto Furies, Lindsay Vine scored in the shootout
Calgary Inferno: Katelyn Gosling, February 23, 2019 vs Kunlun Red Star (assisted by Zoe Hickel and Kacey Bellamy)
Canadiennes de Montreal: Jillian Saulnier, February 23, 2019 vs Markham Thunder (assisted by Marie-Philip Poulin and Ann-Sophie Bettez)
Kunlun Red Star: Cayley Mercer, February 2, 2019 vs Toronto Furies (assisted by Alex Carpenter and Stephanie Anderson)
Markham Thunder: Laura Stacey, February 24, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal (assisted by Laura Fortino)
Team Alberta: Tia Hanson, February 25, 2013 vs Brampton Thunder (assisted by Jocelyne Larocque and Meaghan Mikkelson), Mikkelson logged the shootout winner
Toronto Furies: Brittany Howard, February 26, 2019 vs Markham Thunder (assisted by Carlee Campbell and Shiann Darkangelo)
Vanke Rays: Rose Alleva, March 10, 2018 vs Kunlun Red Star (assisted by Emma Woods). It was also Alleva’s first goal of her CWHL career
Last playoff goals in franchise history:
Boston Blades: Janine Weber, March 7, 2015 vs Montreal Stars (assited by Corinne Buie)
Brampton Thunder: Jess Jones, February 25, 2017
Calgary Inferno: Rebecca Johnston, March 24, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal (assisted by Brigitte Lacquette)
Canadiennes de Montreal: Ann-Sophie Bettez, March 24, 2019 vs Calgary Inferno (assisted by Hilary Knight and Erin Ambrose)
Kunlun Red Star: Kelli Stack, March 25, 2018 vs Markham Thunder (unassisted)
Markham Thunder: Ella Matteucci, March 9, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal (assisted by Brooke Webster and Jocelyne Larocque)
Toronto Furies: Carolyne Prevost, March 10, 2019 vs Calgary InfernO (assisted by Shiann Darkangelo)
Last game-winning playoff goals in franchise history:
Boston Blades: Janine Weber, March 7, 2015 vs Montreal Stars (assisted by Corinne Buie)
Brampton Thunder: Lori Dupuis, March 23, 2012 vs Toronto Furies (assisted by Allyson Fox)
Calgary Inferno: Brianna Decker March 24, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal (assisted by Kacey Bellamy)
Canadiennes de Montreal: Melodie Daoust, March 10, 2019 vs Markham Thunder (assisted by Lauriane Rougeau)
Kunlun Red Star: Alexandra Carpenter, March 18, 2018 vs Clagary Inferno
Markham Thunder: Ella March 9, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal
Toronto Furies: Kelly Terry, February 24, 2017, 5-2 vs Clagary Inferno (assiosted by Natalie Spooner)
Last regular season goaltending wins in franchise history:
Boston Blades: Lauren Dahm, January 6, 2018 vs Toronto Furies
Brampton Thunder: Erica Howe, February 19, 2017 vs Boston Blades
Burlington Barracudas: Christina Kessler, December 18, 2011, 3-2 (SO) vs Toronto Furies
Calgary Inferno: Annie Belanger, February 23, 2019 vs Kunlun Red Star
Canadiennes de Montreal: Emerance Maschmeyer, February 23, 2019 vs Markham Thunder
Kunlun Red Star: Noora Raty, February 2, 2019 vs Toronto Furies
Markham Thunder: Erica Howe, February 24 vs Canadiennes de Montreal
Team Alberta: Jillian MacIsaac, February 25, 2013 vs Brampton Thunder
Toronto Furies: Shea Tiley, February 26, 2019 vs Markham Thunder
Vanke Rays: Elaine Chuli, March 10, 2018 vs Kunlun Red Star
Last postseason goaltending wins in franchise history:
Boston Blades: Genevieve Lacasse, March 7, 2015 vs Montreal Stars
Brampton Thunder: Liz Knox March 24, 2012 versus Toronto Furies
Calgary Inferno: Alex Rigsby, March 24, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal
Canadiennes de Montreal: Emerance Maschmeyer, March 10, 2019 vs Markahm
Kunlun Red Star: Noora Raty, March 18, 2018 vs Calgary
Markham Thunder: Erica Howe, March 9, 2019 vs Calgary Inferno
Toronto Furies: Christina Kessler Feb 24 2017 vs Calgary Inferno
Last postseason games in franchise history:
Boston Blades: March 7, 2015 vs Montreal Stars (Genevieve Lacasse was the starting goatlender)
Brampton Thunder: Feb 25, 2017 vs Canadiennes de Montreal
Calgary Inferno: March 24, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal (Alex Rigsby was the starting goaltender)
Canadiennes de Montreal: March 24, 2019 vs Calgary Inferno (Emerance Maschmeyer was the starting goaltender)
Kunlun Red Star: March 25, 2018 vs Markham Thunder (Noora Raty was the starting goaltender)
Markham Thunder: March 10, 2019 5-0 loss vs Canadiennes de Montreal (Erica Howe was the starting goaltender)
Toronto Furies: March 10, 2019 vs Calgary Inferno (Elaine Chuli was the starting goaltender)
Last home games in franchise history
Boston Blades: March 11, 2018 vs Markham Thunder (franchise relocated to Worcester the following season)
Brampton Thunder: January 29, 2017 vs Canadiennes de Montreal (franchise relcoated to Markham the following season)
Burlington Barracudas: March 11, 2012 vs Montreal Stars (7-2 loss)
Calgary Inferno: February 10, 2019 vs Worcester Blades (10-0 win)
Canadiennes de Montreal: February 24, 2019 vs Markham Thunder (2-1 loss)
Kunlun Red Star: February 23, 2019 vs Calgary Inferno (4-3 loss)
Markham Thunder: February 17, 2018 vs Toronto Furies (3-1 loss)
Team Alberta: February 11, 2013 vs Montreal Stars
Toronto Furies: February 26, 2019 vs Markham Thunder (3-1 win)
Worcester Blades: February 17, 2019 vs Canadiennes de Montreal (4-3 loss)
Last shutouts in franchise history:
Boston Blades: February 22, 2015, vs. Brampton, 4-0, Nicole Stock, 15 saves
Brampton Thunder: February 18, 2017: vs Boston, 6-0, Erica Howe, 17 saves
January 9, 2019: Kunlun Red Star vs Worcester, 4-0, Kimberly Newell, 33 saves
January 31, 2019: Toronto vs KRS, 1-0, Elaine Chuli, 24 saves
February 3, 2019: Montreal vs Calgary, 3-0, Maschm
Calgary Inferno: February 10, 2019: vs Worcester, 10-0, Annie Belanger
Markham Thunder: October 27, 2018: vs KRS 1-0 Erica Howe
Vanke Rays: December 20, 2017: vs Blades, 3-0, Elaine Chuli, 27 saves
Last playoff shutouts:
Toronto, March 22, 2014, 1-0 vs Boston Blades, Christina Kessler, 25 saves
Boston, March 4, 2015, 3-0 vs Toronto Furies, Genevieve Lacasse
Kunlun Red Star, 1-0 vs Calgary, March 25, 2018, Noora Raty
Calgary 3-0 vs Toronto, March 9, 2019 Alex Rigsby
Montreal 5-0 vs Markham, March 10, 2019 Maschmeyer, 17 saves
Other famous lasts:
Megan Bozek, Markham, Tripping, 2 min, 15:39, Third Period, Markham vs Toronto, February 26, 2019
Last Power Play Goal:
16:20 Carolyne Prevost, Toronto, 16:20 Third Period, vs Markham ASST: Mellissa Channell (12), Carlee Campbell (4) (PP)
Last Shorthanded Goal:
10:52 TOR Natalie Spooner (15) ASST: None (SH)
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Last First Star of the Game by franchise:
Shea Tiley TOR (Feb 26)
Rattray Markham (feb 24)
Marie-Philip Poulin (Feb 23) MTL
Saturday, February 23, 2019 Katelyn Gosling CGY
February 2: Stepahnie Anderson KRS
Last Overtime Game:
Friday, February 22, 2019 – Calgary 4, SHenzhen 3
Brianne Jenner Last Overtime Goal:
1:08 CGY Brianne Jenner (18) ASST: Halli Krzyzaniak (8), Rebecca Johnston (24)
Last Shootout Game:
Feb 16 Markham vs Toronto
Last Shootout Goal: Shiann Darkangelo
LAST REGULAR SEASON GAME
February 26, 2019: Markham Thunder at Toronto Furies
Sarah Nurse (14) 0:19 of first period
Brittany Howard (5) 17:06 of third period
Carolyne Prevost (6) 16:20 of third period
Taylor Woods (2) 18:01 of third period
Last goal in CWHL regular season history scored by Taylor Woods with assist credited to Laura Fortino. Toronto’s Shea Tiley gives up said goal, recording 21 saves in the game for the last win in CWHL regular season history. Erica Howe stops 30 of 33 Furies shots for the final loss in CWHL regular season history.
Having appeared in three Winter Games for Finland’s national women’s ice hockey team, Venla Hovi has also enjoyed a USPORTS national championship. As the first goaltender to compete at all three levels of the United States women’s hockey programs (U18, U22, Senior), Alex Rigsby added to her growing legacy with a gold medal at the most recent Winter Games.
While both of their careers have taken on a new sheen, it would have been understandably unforeseen for two world-class players to become teammates in the unlikeliest of places. Both members of the Calgary Inferno’s 2018 draft class, the two gathered in one of Western Canada’s premier markets for hockey, providing their new club team with an opportunity to remain firmly entrenched among the upper echelon of the CWHL.
Already bringing an element of familiarity to Western Canadian hockey fans, Hovi had previously starred with the University of Manitoba Bisons. Leading the program to its first-ever national championship in Canadian university women’s hockey last spring, she was rewarded for her efforts with the honor of the Bisons Female Athlete of the Year, a crowning touch to a brilliant run. Such an honor was also part of a monumental time that had seen Hovi capture a bronze medal with Finland at the 2018 Winter Games.
In the aftermath of her first season of CWHL hockey, Rigsby already left her mark, honored as the Goaltender of the Year. Also gaining a spot in the CWHL All-Star Game, suiting up for Team Purple alongside rival goalie Emerance Maschmeyer, the two would renew rivalries at the 2019 Clarkson Cup Finals.
With the first place Calgary Inferno disposing of the Toronto Furies in the semi-finals, while Les Canadiennes de Montreal avenged their postseason elimination from 2018, defeating the defending Cup champion Markham Thunder, the 2019 Finals would extend the growing rivalry between Rigsby and Maschmeyer, involving their NCAA days and their epic overtime confrontation at the IIHF Women’s Worlds in Kamloops, British Columbia.
Making 25 saves in a convincing 5-2 victory, highlighted by keeping Montreal off the scoresheet in the first period, Rigsby displayed a tremendous composure, instilling confidence in her teammates that the Cup was within reach. Fellow American Zoe Hickel scored twice for First Star of the Game honors, while fellow gold medalists Kacey Bellamy assisted on Brianna Decker’s Cup clinching goal, affirming the American invasion of Calgary, the result was the second Clarkson Cup championship in franchise history.
With the Cup win, all of the aforementioned added a unique element to the lore of their careers. Bellamy and Decker are among a rare group of women (including fellow American Julie Chu) to have won a Clarkson Cup with both an American and Canadian team. Hickel is now part of a rapidly expanding club of women who have both Clarkson and Isobel Cup wins on their hockey resumes.
For Rigsby, the victory took on an even more monumental meaning. Becoming the first-ever American goaltender to gain entry into the Triple Gold Club for Women, she is one of only five goalies to have achieved the trifecta of a Clarkson Cup, an IIHF World Championship and a Gold Medal at the Winter Games. The others include Kim St. Pierre, Charline Labonte, Sami Jo Small and Genevieve Lacasse.
In addition, Rigsby is the first goaltender to have Triple Gold honors plus an NCAA Frozen Four title, giving her a Grand Slam. As a side note, position players to have achieved the Grand Slam include Jenny Potter, Caroline Ouellette, Hilary Knight (who played for Les Canadiennes in the 2019 Finals), Brianna Decker and Meghan Duggan.
Worth noting, Rigsby also holds a special connection to Lacasse, duplicating the unique achievement that defined her inaugural season of CWHL hockey in 2012-13. Lacasse added to her own legend by capturing the 2013 CWHL Goaltender of the Year Award, while leading the Boston Blades to an emotional victory over the Montreal Stars in the Clarkson Cup Finals, the first in Blades franchise history.
Appearing in 25 regular season games for the Inferno, Hovi managed a respectable 14 points, on the strength of 10 assists, placing second among rookies with her new team. With only four penalty minutes all season, and a very respectable +13 ranking, she also managed a four-game scoring streak.
Throughout this sojourn into professional hockey, ties to Hovi’s homeland were always prevalent. Scoring the first CWHL goal of her career against China’s Shenzhen KRS Rays, the opposing goaltender was Noora Raty, who has called Hovi a teammate at three Winter Games (2010, 2014, 2018). As a side note, Hovi’s final regular season series took place in China, opposing Raty once again. Although Raty did not find the back of the net, she gained an assist on a third period goal by Zoe Hickel, in her last regular season appearance.
In 2018, Raty made her own mark on Clarkson Cup lore, becoming the first European goaltender to start a Finals (and the first European to win Goalie of the Year honors), as she and American icon Kelli Stack, the first American to win the Angela James Bowl, propelled the expansion Kunlun Red Star into the Clarkson Cup. Although Laura Stacey, who gained a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Games, scored the overtime winning goal, Hovi built on Raty’s legacy one year later.
Despite going pointless in the postseason, Hovi enjoyed an unprecedented honor, as she became the first player from Finland to win the Clarkson Cup. Taking into account that she also captured the Golden Path Trophy in 2018, awarded to the USPORTS National Championships, she is likely the first Finnish player to win two major championships in back-to-back seasons with Canadian-based teams.
The international connection extended beyond the presence of Rigsby and Hovi. For a franchise that once drafted Claudia Tellez, a Mexican-born player, Of note, Aina Mizukami, who competed with the Japanese national team at two different Winter Games competitions suited up for the Inferno in 2018-19. While Mizukami’s future competing in North America is a source of speculation, her possibly final game with the Inferno is one that saw her became the third player from Japan to have hoisted the Clarkson Cup. Coincidentally, the first two Japanese players, Kanae Aoki and Aina Takeuchi also contributed towards a Cup victory for Calgary, achieving the feat back in 2016, also the first Cup Finals contested in an NHL arena.
Already touted as a world-class ice hockey player, Jillian Saulnier has gained tremendous admiration for a very compassionate fundraising effort. Earning recognition as a hockey humanitarian and world-class person, her focus was on bringing comfort to a family of new Canadians whose lives were eternally disrupted. Juggling her obligations with the Canadian national team and competing professionally with Les Canadiennes de Montreal, also a participant at the 2019 CWHL All-Star Game, she took time before the Clarkson Cup Finals to return to her hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia in the name of this very heartwarming cause.
Hosted at Bedford, Nova Scotia’s BMO Centre, Barho Charity Hockey Day was highlighted by a Charity Hockey Game featuring Jillian Saulnier and Friends. Including a family skate and a moment of silence prior to opening faceoff, an online silent auction represented a key aspect of the fundraising effort. Consisting of over 100 items, it was highlighted by signed memorabilia from the likes of women’s hockey luminaries Hayley Wickenheiser and Cassie Campbell-Pascall, along with signed jerseys from Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, and a book autographed by Wayne Gretzky. In addition, there were even ticket packages for numerous events, including the 2020 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Clarkson Cup weekend plus the Memorial Cup tickets, with proceeds going to the Barho Family.
Having established roots in the Halifax area over the course of the last 18 months, the Barhos suffered what no family ever should. A devastating house fire that took place in the community of Spryfield on February 19 took the lives of their seven children, Abdullah, Rana, Hala, Ola, Mohamad, Rola and Ahmad, a disastrous event that quickly made national news. Having emigrated to Canada from the war-ravaged nation of Syria, the Barho family was looking for a new life in Atlantic Canada, putting behind them a haunting past.
Upon hearing of this tragic news, Saulnier was motivated to find an empathic way to give back. In order to assemble such an amazing event in a short time span, a unique coincidence led to compelling circumstance. The collaborative efforts of Kevin Rimmer and his daughter Stacie embodied the feeling of teamwork. Of note, Kevin was one of the first people that Saulnier conversed with, and he was a tremendous source of encouragement.
Stacie once attended the summer hockey camp run by Saulnier and Stellarton, Nova Scotia native Blayre Turnbull. Although Turnbull, who called Saulnier her teammate at the 2018 Winter Games was unable to make the trek cross country, calling the Calgary Inferno her club team, she was highly inspired by the feeling of community and comfort. With a career in sports management, Stacie was the catalyst in helping to organize the event, paying attention to the details that helped make Barho Charity Hockey Day run efficiently and successfully.
Although the Barhos did not have a hockey affiliation, Saulnier observed the local perspective, finding a connection in community, one which set an essential tone on this day defined by a combination of sympathy and determination. With competitors from local university teams and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, along with various donors, there was also a strong personal connection on-ice for Saulnier.
Playing this season for Sweden’s Morrums GolS in Division I play, Saulnier’s brother Brennan crossed the Atlantic with teammates for this event. While the number of women gracing the ice included her former teammates from the Cornell Big Red, where she captured Ivy League Rookie of the Year Honors in 2012 plus First-Team All-America nods in 2014, amassing 195 collegiate points, was joined by with Fiona Smith-Bell, a member of Canada’s contingent in women’s ice hockey at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. A post-game autograph session allowed fans and donors a chance to meet Saulnier and other participants.
With members of ISANS “New to Hockey” joining Saulnier on the red carpet during the pre-game ceremony, there was another visual element that served as an important reminder of why these tremendous hockey humanitarians were participating. All players were garbed in jerseys with the logos of local fire departments, a unique way to pay tribute to the brave first responders on the scene of the blaze.
In a matter of two weeks, an impressive sum of $30,000 was raised for the Barho family. Complmeneted by an inspiring outpouring of support on social media by individuals, athletes and organizations from both sides of the border, a collective display of kindness during a difficult time. Employing an enthusiasm that provided an emotional benefit for all involved, facing adversity with unity, the legacy of the Barho Charity Hockey Day may stand as Saulnier’s defining moment.
Taking into account that this event was held the week before the Clarkson Cup Finals, which sees Saulnier take to the ice at Toronto’s Coca-Cola Centre with Les Canadiennes de Montreal, where she registered 29 regular season points and earned a spot in the CWHL All-Star Game, and two weeks before travelling overseas for the IIHF Women’s Worlds in Espoo, Finland, the fact that Saulnier sacrificed her only free weekend before this demanding time in order to help others reflects a superlative character. Indicative of what a remarkable person she truly is, Saulnier has evolved from elite athlete and fan favorite to an altruistic advocate and devotee of community, the type of role model that others in the community can aspire for their children to become.