With the superlative quality of women’s ice hockey emanating from the Ottawa and Montreal areas, fans are being spoiled by unique exhibition matches. Such a match occurred at the Carleton Ice House on September 29, 2012. The prestigious Dawson College Blues program (from the CEGEP school systems in Quebec) is as relevant to Quebec academic women’s hockey as Katy High School is to high school football in Texas.
Two of Dawson’s most famous alumni include two gold medalists from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games: Marie-Philip Poulin and Catherine Ward. Both have had their jerseys retired by the school. This season, three of the assistant coaches for Dawson College are Montreal Stars players: Alyssa Cecere, Emmanuelle Blais and Kim St. Pierre. “Having someone like Kim is an honor for us. Players look up to her, she is their idol,” stated Blais. Although Cecere and St. Pierre were unable to attend, Blais was behind the bench providing guidance and encouragement.
“The players are very respectful,” said Blais.
Dawson’s uniforms look like throwback jerseys from a bygone era. A navy blue jersey with a sharp-looking D embroidered on the front carries a simple yet elegant look. The jersey is complemented by a beautiful mix of different shades of blue along the shoulder.
With Carleton adorned in their white jerseys, all skaters had a ShotBox sensor on their helmet. “The sensors capture the number of hits to the head with the goal being player safety. The trainer can count the hits and measure the severity,” stated Scott Foreman of Impakt Protective.
Natasha Ireland opened the scoring at the 4:11 mark of the first period. Less than two minutes later, the charismatic Alex Yallouz responded for Carleton as she buried a wrist shot past Dawson netminder Bianka Landry. Of note, scouts from Syracuse and Brown University were in attendance.
Tawnya Guindon and newly named Alternate Captains Ainslee Kent and Sadie Wegner were part of the scoring line that continuously peppered Landry with shots but to no avail. Erin Beaver was also in the lineup for the Ravens, returning from injury.
The Blues continued to pressure Ravens netminder Eri Kiribuchi. Sophia Skotidakis had a wraparound shot from behind the net denied by Kiribuchi. As the period progressed, Dawson spent more time in Carleton’s zone. Alternate captain Karel Laplante tipped in a rebound to put Dawson ahead again.
Enthusiasm reigned on Dawson’s bench, and it was not lost on the Carleton spectators. As Blais would tap the helmets of players coming off the ice, providing a comforting presence, the Dawson bench erupted when one of their teammates blocked Ainslee Kent’s shot. With 1:30 left in the frame, Yallouz fanned on the shot.
Entering the second period, the physicality erupted to a level of great intensity. Dawson’s Veronique Boudreau tapped in a rebound to extend the lead to 3-1. After the goal, she was knocked down by Ravens defender Kaylie Welk.
A few seconds later, Karel Laplante was nearly knocked over the boards and tapped helmets with backup netminder Melanie Fournier. Later in the second, Laplante and Sadie Wegner knocked each other down, with a penalty going to Wegner. A solid two-way player and great choice as alternate captain, the Carleton faithful were not happy with the penalty called to Wegner.
As the game became even more physical, Dawson’s Alexandra D’Onofrio and Rebecca Laganiere demonstrated a strong presence. Great shot blockers that are not afraid to get into the corners, they antagonized the Ravens' skaters the entire game.
Erika Starnino’s wicked slap shot soared by Kiribuchi as Dawson extended their lead. A few seconds later, she intercepted a Carleton pass but Ravens blueliner Julianne Bruce neutralized her. With 9:18 left in the second, Veronique Boudreau shot at the Carleton net. The puck bounced in front and Jenifer Pouliot tucked it in to give Dawson a commanding 4-1 lead.
With the goals mounting, Carleton put on a brave face and tried to come back. The valiant Wegner and Natasha Ireland struggled in the corner for a loose puck, and a frustrated Wegner was called for another penalty. Wegner was the most determined player for the Ravens. Her perseverance was evident as she grabbed a puck from the corner and skated past two Dawson defenders, racing towards the Dawson net. She would be knocked down by Karel Laplante. Ravens fans were upset that no penalty was called.
A few seconds later, Wegner knocked down Audrey-Ann Boutour, as a means of preventing the puck from going towards the Carleton zone. Once again, Wegner was called for a penalty. Despite efforts from Tawnya Guindon and Stephanie Plourde, Dawson’s goalie was impenetrable.
The third period resulted in more solid play as Melanie Fournier stood between the pipes for Dawson. She would deny Yallouz, Guindon and a strong backhand from Wegner. Dawson’s fifth goal embodied how all the bounces went Dawson’s way in this contest. Veronique Boudreau shot at close range against Kiribuchi. Although Kiribuchi deflected the shot, it hit Boudreau on her shin. The puck bounced off her shin and past Kiribuchi for another goal.
Near the midway point of the third period, Jenifer Pouliot knocked down Ravens captain Jessica O’Grady into the boards. There was no penalty on the play, but O’Grady was on the ice for several minutes. While O’Grady was taken off the ice and under observation, Kaylie Welk tipped a shot into Dawson’s net to provide the beleaguered Ravens with their second goal.
Although O’Grady came back and fired an impressive wrist shot, it was Dawson that would add to the score sheet. Alessandra Bravi tipped in a shot with 4:46 left in the final stanza to give Dawson a 6-2 lead, which remained the final score.
“It was nice for Carleton to host us. Our team played great. Our team did not have any expectations. We told them to work hard and they did just that,” a proud Blais replied.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated.”