Erika Pouliot’s early years with the Ottawa Gee Gees hold special memories for her. “In my first two years, we played at the CIS Nationals. It was a really, really good experience. We even hosted one year,” said Pouliot. “In the last game, (on March 10, 2008) we were losing 5-1 after two periods to St. FX. We forced overtime and I scored the winning goal in the shootout.” Pouliot assisted on the game-tying goal by Kim Kerr before putting a backhanded shot in the shootout past St. Francis Xavier netminder Crystal Stewart.
Prior to her heroics with the Gee Gees, she learned her trade in the National Women’s Hockey League with the Montreal Axion (pronounced Action), where she won the league championship in 2006. “I was reserved and shy. Scared to make a mistake.”
Hailing from St. Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, two of her eventual teammates with the Axion, Caroline Ouellette and Charline Labonte (gold medalists at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games) were one-time hockey instructors to Pouliot. “Once, my parents hosted the team. I was impressed to play with those players. I learned so much, and was even invited to the Canadian Under-22 camp.”
The Under-22 camp that Pouliot attended was held in Ottawa during the month of August 2006. Some of the future stars that were in attendance at that camp included Shannon Szabados, Catherine Ward, Meghan Agosta, Haley Irwin and Rebecca Johnston.
As Pouliot progressed with the Gee Gees, the twilight of her career presented her with the opportunity to be named team captain. “It was an honor to represent the school and the hockey team. I was happy to get that role. The C on the shirt does not mean it is just a C. I took that role very seriously.” She ended her career by winning the 2012 University of Ottawa Presidents Award for Female Athletics.
During her prodigious career, Pouliot (also a 2008-2009 second-team QSSF all-star) had the opportunity to play for coaches such as Shelley Coolidge (currently with the Carleton Ravens), and Yanick Evola (with both the Axion and the Gee Gees). Pouliot is quick to recognize the importance of the role of the coach. “They are really important. When you see them everyday, you need to have a good understanding. You must have confidence in your coach.”
After her senior season in 2011-12, the entry into coaching helped Pouliot tremendously. “I was still playing last year but it was a hard transition. I was happy to move on to a different role. Right now, I am really, really happy.”
Although she is no longer on the ice, the summer season is devoted to another sport that she has excelled in, ball hockey. Pouliot is quick to point out the differences in the game. “You cannot glide (as you could on the ice). You run all the time and the ball goes a lot faster.”
Along with current Gee Gees captain Fannie Desforges, Alicia Blomberg and former Gee Gees teammate Danika Smith, the foursome represented Canada at the 2011 World Ball Hockey Championships in Slovakia. “It was crazy, to represent your country is a good experience. Through ball hockey, that opportunity came.”
With someone as dedicated and accomplished as Pouliot on the coaching staff, the Gee Gees are hoping she can help provide some new championship opportunities.
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated