Head Coach Peter Smith Reflects on the Outlook of the 2011 Version of the Martlet Hockey Team
Every season, the McGill Martlet Hockey team introduces new members to the roster. The team has a certain culture that must be passed on from year to year and the first year players learn quickly that they will not survive in the Martlet environment if they don’t work hard and dedicate themselves to improving on a daily basis. These young players have come to McGill to be challenged both in the classroom and on the ice. The 2011 first-year group of young student-athletes has not disappointed Head Coach Peter Smith. “They are a hard working group, both academically and athletically. None of our players come to McGill solely for hockey. It is the combination of athletics and academics that attracts our athletes”.
The first year group includes two engineering majors, one kinesiology student, three education majors and two science majors. Academics consume over 30 hours a week of their time, and for the first year players the biggest challenge that they face will be time management. “At McGill, we have a great student-athlete support system where all varsity athletes have tutorial services available to them” explained coach Smith, “but it is up to each player to make sure they get the help and support that they need before it is too late”.
The first year players are an experienced group when it comes to hockey. Mélodie Daoust comes to McGill after winning a Gold Medal with Canada at the U18 World Championships, participating at the U22 National Training Camp and being named to Canada’s 4Nations Cup team roster. She has also served as Team Captain at the Provincial Level with Team Quebec for many years. Brittany Fouracres and Elizabeth Hillier were members of Team Alberta in 2010 and won the Gold Medal at the Canada Winter Games, Elizabeth Pyke also participated in the Games when she represented Team Atlantic. Stefanie Polhod begins her McGill career graduating from the Edge School in Calgary Alberta. Kelsey Moffatt enters her first year at McGill after a solid season in the PWHL playing for the Etobicoke Dolphins while Joanne Cagianos finished her CEGEP career with the Dawson Blues.
In terms of leadership, once again the Martlets are fortunate. The captains of the team, Cathy Chartrand, Gillian Ferrari, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Jordanna Perroff all bring a wealth of experience to the dressing room. They have all played in a CIS Championship game each year that they have worn a Martlet Jersey. They all understand what it takes to be a successful student-athlete and lead by example both on the ice and in the classroom. When asked about team leadership Coach Smith is quick to comment about the entire team. “We get leadership from a variety of sources in the room and on the ice. They all are great role models and lead by example. We are blessed to have a whole group of players who work so hard on a daily basis. They compete every day and learn every day. It is fun to watch everyone develop their leadership skills”.
“The second and third year players help to provide a lot of positive energy at practice and games. They are skilled hockey players who really complete our team’s leadership model. They have all made the transition from first year inexperienced student-athletes to an extremely influential group. “When our leaders talk in the room, the young players look to the second and third year kids to see how they react. They have all bought into our team mission and have become leaders in their own way. They understand what it takes to make the team better and ensure that they bring the energy and intensity to do so”.
“ Ultimately it is the depth of our team that has lead to our past success. Each game we have four lines and six defense who contribute,” explains Smith. “We have a larger roster than previous years. The players compete hard in practice every day to make the team better and earn their ice time”. Strong goaltending is another solid aspect of the Martlet team again this season with Labonte competing in her final year. “Charline brings so much confidence to our team. She handles the puck well, she is like having a quarterback back there all of the time”.
Overall, the Martlets have gotten off to a great start again this season. Coach Smith is quick to remind the players of the importance of the details. Building habits to achieve success and using every day as an opportunity to learn and to improve is essential. “The challenge with any time is to keep pushing the pace. With the leadership group that we have, the work ethic of our players and the commitment of excellence in our room, I am confident our hard work will pay off”.