Meghan Agosta continues to provide memorable hockey moments on her birthday

Having carved a hockey legacy that is truly Hockey Hall of Fame worthy, one of the crowning achievements in Meghan Agosta’s career are the shining performances she has provided on her birthday. Quickly turning February 12 into a date that is synonymous with women’s hockey lore, Agosta’s legend only grows.

Celebrating a goal against the United States on her 27th birthday at Sochi. Photo credit: Jean Levac, Postmedia Olympic Team

Celebrating a goal against the United States on her 27th birthday at Sochi. Photo credit: Jean Levac, Postmedia Olympic Team

The last three Winter Games competitions (Torino 2006, Vancouver 2010, and Sochi 2014) have all been contested in the month of February, providing Agosta with multiple opportunities to showcase her skills. While each performance on the world’s biggest stage has its own mystique to it, the most memorable is obviously her first.

With the 2006 Torino Winter Games serving as her coming-out party, Agosta would log a hat trick on her 19th birthday. Playing with an expertise and maturity far beyond her years, Torino set the stage for a bright future to come. In a 12-0 victory against Russia, she would score a hat trick. Adding to the jubilation was the fact that the Winter Games were contested in the homeland of her father.

Scoring a first period goal against Nadezhda Aleksandrova of Russia at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. (Image obtained from: http://www.windsorstar.com/Gallery+Meghan+Agosta/1278824/story.html Agosta)

Scoring a first period goal against Nadezhda Aleksandrova of Russia at the 2006 Torino Winter Games. (Image obtained from: http://www.windsorstar.com/Gallery+Meghan+Agosta/1278824/story.html
Agosta)

Of note, the first game for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games came on February 13, one day after Agosta’s 23rd birthday. In an 18-0 victory over Slovakia, Agosta registered a hat trick and two assists.

Heading into the February 12th match (also her 27th birthday) versus the United States at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Agosta wrote what would prove to be the next glorious chapter in the eternal rivalry between Canada and the United States. Despite entering Sochi with a four-game losing streak in exhibition matches versus the US, Agosta scored twice on US backstop Jessie Vetter in the third period for a remarkable 3-2 come from behind victory at Shayba Arena.

Of note, Canada trailed by a 1-0 mark after two periods of play. Agosta’s first goal of the game came on the power play. She would assist on Hayley Wickenheiser’s goal providing Canada with the 2-1 advantage. Agosta would score again for a two goal lead as a US goal from Anne Schleper with less than sixty seconds was not enough.

While an entire generation of hockey fans is accustomed to Agosta proudly representing Canada at the Winter Games, she has also captured the imaginations of fans at the NCAA and CWHL levels.

Competing for the famed Mercyhurst Lakers in Erie, Pennsylvania, Agosta would transform the program into a national power. Playing alongside future national team members such as Vicki Bendus, Bailey Bram and Jesse Scanzano, it would prove to be a golden age for the Lakers.

Her junior campaign with the Lakers (2008-09) found her competing against the Robert Morris Colonials on February 13. One day after turning 22, she pummeled the Colonials with a hat trick. During her senior season with the Lakers (2010-11), she would deliver in a contest versus conference rival Syrcause. On the road, the Syracuse Orange faithful would see Agosta deliver a three-point performance on the strength of two assists while she celebrated her 24th birthday.

With the Montreal Stars of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the high-scoring Agosta is the modern-day equivalent of Guy Lafleur in the Montreal hockey conversation. So far, the only CWHL game contested on her birthday came during her rookie season, where she shattered league marks for most points in one season, along with most points by a rookie, respectively.

A road contest on February 12, 2012 against the Brampton Thunder signified Agosta’s landmark 25th birthday. She would contribute a pair of goals complemented by two assists (including one on the power play) for a four-point output in a convincing 5-1 thrashing of the Thunder.

Anytime that Agosta graces the ice, it becomes an opportunity to watch women’s hockey history unfold. For hardcore fans, the next time that Agosta competes on her birthday, there is no question that many fireworks are sure to follow for the greatest player of her generation.

Caroline Ouellette earns honor of serving as Canada’s captain in gold medal defense at Sochi 2014

If one word can describe the Canadian national women’s team journey towards the Sochi Winter Games, it would be change. From having to deal with the release of Tessa Bonhomme and a coaching change midway through camp; Hayley Wickenheiser has been replaced as Canada’s captain.

As Canada looks to defend its gold medal victory from Vancouver 2010, Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette has been bestowed the honor of the captaincy. It is not only a tremendous milestone for Ouellette, but for her club team, the Montreal Stars. It not only marks the first time that a Stars player has been named Team Canada’s captain for the Winter Games, it is also the first time that an active CWHL player has earned the nod.

From a leadership standpoint, Wickenheiser shall remain part of the core as alternate captain. Jayna Hefford and Catherine Ward shall rotate as alternate captains. During the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Hefford, a 17-year veteran with Canada’s national team served as captain when Wickenheiser was unable to play.

While the entire year of 2013 has consisted of peaks and valleys for Canada’s women in hockey – jubilation included Ouellette’s 200th appearance in a Canadian sweater, along with Hefford playing in her 250 game for Canada – to desolation such as Montreal losing the Clarkson Cup to Boston and Canada losing the gold medal on home ice at the IIHF Women’s Worlds for the first time – fans can only hope that Ouellette’s appointment to the captaincy is a sign of consistency to come.

Although Canada and the United States are still head and shoulders above the rest of the competing nations, the reality is that the cap continues to close. An upset of any kind to the likes of Finland or Switzerland is completely unacceptable. Burdening a significant amount of pressure heading into Sochi, Ouellette is more than accustomed to big game situations.

In addition to being a member of the Triple Gold Club (consisting of Winter Games gold, IIHF gold and a Clarkson Cup), she has also won the NCAA Frozen Four championship, a rare grand slam in women’s hockey. Among an elite group of women (including Hefford and Wickenheiser) that have three Winter Games gold medals in ice hockey, Ouellette has carved a remarkable career since debuting with the Canadian team in 2000.

As the third-leading scorer in Canadian history with 238 points, she has symbolized the world-class status of Canada as an elite hockey power. One of the greatest goals in her career was the gold medal winning tally that brought Canada the 2012 IIHF world title, truly testament to her longevity in the game. Her leadership skills on and off the ice, complemented by a love of the game and a humble demeanor, whether it be with the Montreal Stars of the CWHL or the Canadian contingent, make her a highly valued player and teammate.

While the captaincy was truly the only remaining honor left in her storied career (besides nomination in the Hockey Hall of Fame), there is no denying that everyone on Team Canada provides their own type of leadership. Many of the women on the Canadian contingent have served as captains on their own teams in CWHL and NCAA play making the push for a fourth consecutive gold truly a team effort.

As the next stage of the road towards Sochi includes a pre-Winter Games camp in Austria, the reality of Ouellette being appointed Canada’s captain is an opportunity to celebrate her career. Considering Hefford and Wickenheiser are the only other women to have played at least 200 games with Canada, they will certainly be key support for Ouellette as the three compose the best group of captains among all the competing teams in Sochi.

Tremendous milestone for Melodie Daoust as she scores her first goal with Team Canada

As one of only two women from Quebec to have played with the Canadian Under-18, Under-22 and Senior Teams, a September 20 match versus the South East Athletic Club Tigers on September 20 would represent a tremendous milestone in her storied career. Of the three goals scored in the first period of a 5-1 Canada win, Daoust would log a power play goal at the 17:01 mark to extend Canada’s lead to 3-0.

Image obtained from Twitter

Image obtained from Twitter

Assisting on her milestone goal were Meaghan Mikkelson and Lauriane Rougeau, who is the only other woman from Quebec to have played on Canada’s U18, U22 and Senior Teams. She would score another goal two games later in a 3-1 win over the Calgary Royals. Vicki Bendus and Jenelle Kohanchuk would assist on her goal in the first period which provided the Canadians with a 2-0 advantage. The following day, a September 26 win against the Calgary Northstars, she would score the first two goals of the game to set the tone as her squad rolled out to a 7-2 win.

As one of 15 forwards competing for 12 avaialble slots on Canada’s contingent that shall look for its fourth consecutive gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Daoust is aiming to be a part of the magnificent milestone. Of note, Daoust already had the opportunity to compete in Sochi. As part of a two-game exhibition series in the Russian resort town, she joined the Canadian contingent in Shayba Arena. In the first game, a 6-1 victory in which Natalie Spooner scored a hat trick, Daoust would earn an assists on a second period tally scored by Jocelyne Larocque.

Except for Brigitte Lacquette, Daoust is the youngest player at centralization, as well as being one of 10 players born in the 1990’s. Having debuted with the Senior Team at the 2011 Four Nations Cup, Daoust’s career has grown by a quantum leap since then. Competing with the McGill Martlets in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, the dazzling Daoust is rewriting the CIS record books. The first player to win back-to-back Broderick Trophies (recognizing the most outstanding player in the CIS), she has accumulated an astounding 110 points in only two seasons with the Martlets.

Considering the way Amanda Kessel shredded the Canadian squad at the 2013 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Ottawa, Daoust may be the perfect rebuttal for the American superstar. Although she is still looking for her first point against the US in the pre-Olympic series, Daoust proudly represents the future, proving that Canada is still the gold standard in women’s hockey.