Along with Melodie Daoust and Bianca Della Porta, Leslie Oles is one of three McGill Martlets that have played for the Montreal Stars. The Oct. 5 exhibition game vs. their former team placed all of their great skills on display. Oles dons the number 4 and her strong skating is reminiscent of another great number 4, Bobby Orr.
When Oles first played for the Stars (in the inaugural 2007-08 CWHL season), she was 17 years old. Oles finished second in team scoring with 32 points in 20 games played. She would finish the season by being named to the Eastern Division All-Star team (one of five Stars to be named).
Playing in that first season was historical for Oles, “Yes, women want to be considered the same as men. That season was a big deal for women’s hockey. It was taking a big step towards what they should have.”
In that first season, another teenage hockey prodigy played with Oles, Marie-Philip Poulin. “We were both at Kuper Academy. Brittany Privee, who once played for McGill taught at our high school. She was a role model for us. Kelly Sudia (and Privee) took on a role as mothers through hockey. They taught us how to balance hockey and life. It was like a family.”
Gold medalists from the 2006 Torino Winter Games, Caroline Ouellette and Katie Weatherston played with Oles during that first CWHL season. “For sure, you learn a lot of things (playing with them). I learned on ice and off ice as well. There were good leadership qualities and good habits. Our captain, Liz Breton, to see her work ethic, that is what it takes.”
Her final season with the Stars came during the 2009-10 campaign. “To play at the 2010 Clarkson Cup (in Richmond Hill, Ontario) was a huge deal. We did not really do as well, but I got to play on a line with Marie-Philip Poulin.”
She reflects on her time with the Stars with positive comments, “It was a great league. I played against great players all over the country. There was a high level of skill. It was an honor to play with the players on the Stars team. To play with goaltender Kim St. Pierre is pretty special.”
Oles joined the McGill Martlets for the 2010-11 campaign, and won the CIS National Title as a rookie. “That was obviously one of the greatest moments of my career. To win it with the group of people we won it with was special. In my first year, we ended up having a dream team.”
The team featured 2006 Winter Games gold medalists Charline Labonte and Gillian Ferrari, along with gold medalists from the 2009 Winter Universiade, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Cathy Chartrand and Carly Hill. “The skill and work ethic there was really special.”
Deciding to play for McGill was a serious decision for Oles. “I knew the coaches and players the team had. It was a huge thing to consider what school to choose. You have to like everything about it. You have to like the city you live in, the campus, coaches and team chemistry. It should be the best 4 to 5 years of your life.”
Entering her third season with the Martlets, Oles sees herself as a leader. “The last two years we had strong character. Chartrand, Bettez and Labonte were all pretty high profile people. They consumed a lot of leadership. I do not think about it but I just try to do the right thing and learn to lead.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated.”