As one of the graduating players of the Concordia Stingers, Veronique Laramée-Paquette is a hallmark of perseverance. Prior to joining the Concordia Stingers in Montreal, Laramée-Paquette was a leading scorer with the Wayne State Warriors in the College Hockey America conference of the NCAA. In three seasons, she accumulated 47 points for the program that was based out of Detroit.
When the program went defunct in 2011, the announcement was one of great sadness and disappointment for the proud player, “I cried and I was surprised. There had been suspicions of something going on. The athletic director was strange all year. The year before I went there, the men’s team had been folded.”
Unfortunately for many of the players, the timing was disruptive. “It was announced at the end of summer. We had no choice where to go. I looked up some other NCAA schools. As I only had one year left of eligibility, it was hard to find a school that would provide a full ride. Transferring for an extra year would be hard.”
Rather than playing one more season of NCAA hockey, she opted to return to her home province of Quebec. As players in Canadian Interuniversity Sport are allowed five years of eligibility (compared to four in the NCAA), Laramée-Paquette joined Montreal’s Concordia Stingers in the autumn of 2011.
Upon joining the program, a familiar face was on the Stingers coaching staff. Multiple Clarkson Cup champion Nathalie Dery was serving as an assistant coach to Les Lawton. Dery was a teammate and mentor when Laramée-Paquette competed for the Quebec Avalanche as a teenager.
“I call her my big sister. She has known me since I was 14 and she really loves the game. She has been one of my role models and has really helped me get into shape. She was the main reason that I came to Concordia.”
In her time with the Avalanche, Laramée-Paquette also had the opportunity to play for Patrick Rankine, who was an assistant coach there. “I see him as part of my family,” she said.
In joining the Stingers, she would also have the opportunity to play for Les Lawton, the first women’s hockey coach to win 500 games in North America. “Because we play all the time, he is basically the father of the team. We lean on him, and actually believe in him. He puts everything together.”
During her first season (2011-12), Laramée-Paquette would also find the opportunity to become a two-sport star. Along with women’s hockey players from the rival Ottawa Gee Gees (Alicia Blomberg, Fannie Desforges, Kayla Hottot) and Montreal Stars sniper "Dangerous Dominique" Thibault, these fearless, frozen females would compete in the Red Bull Crashed Ice competition.
“I competed last year and it was just different stuff. I had seen that since I was younger. As we (the Stingers) did not make the playoffs, I thought it was the time to do it.” Although she did not win the competition, fellow hockey player Fannie Desforges claimed the title. “It was fun and I was so happy for her. We hockey players had our own little clique and I was happy she won.”
With the folding of Wayne State behind her, Laramée-Paquette’s career would truly come full circle. While Laramée-Paquette competed at Wayne State, Rankine would become the head coach of the Montreal Stars in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. In addition, Rankine would be the first head coach in league history to win two consecutive Clarkson Cups.
Their paths would cross again during the summer of 2012. As the French National Team went on a goodwill hockey tour of Montreal, the Stars would host the club in an exhibition contest. Laramée-Paquette would make her debut for the Stars as she competed against Team France.
“My friend Anouk Boucher played for Team France. As I knew Pat, I asked him if I could play against her. The Stars were missing a player and I had a chance. That was a fun game. It was fun to see how they play there.”
With a vast number of CWHL players centralizing with their national team rosters in anticipation of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, every squad will be scrambling to fill roster spots in the 2013-14 season.
As Dery currently serves on the Stars coaching staff, the possibility of joining the team during a high turnover year was discussed. “For 2013-14, I do not know yet. I am not sure if I want to continue playing or consider coaching.” As a highly talented forward and the leading scorer of the Stingers in her final season, she would be a welcome addition to the CWHL family should she decide to continue playing.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
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