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A stepping stone to the world
Lauriane Rougeau remembers the National Women’s Under-18 Championship as the event that helped kick-start her international career
Chris Jurewicz
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November 2, 2017
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Lauriane Rougeau’s fondest memories revolve around the players – teammates and opponents alike.

Ten years ago, Rougeau was just getting her start on the national stage. The scene was the National Women’s Under-18 Championship in Kitchener, Ont., and Rougeau, then a 17-year-old defenceman, was an anchor on the Quebec blue-line as her club marched all the way to the gold medal game.

There, Quebec would once again face off against arch-rival Ontario Red, which had defeated Quebec in all three previous national finals – twice in 2005, and at the inaugural tournament in 2001.

Rougeau was part of the second 2005 team, dropping a narrow 2-1 decision in Salmon, Arm, B.C., and also wore provincial colours at the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Y.T., claiming a bronze medal.

“I was a veteran on the team [in 2007],” says Rougeau, now an Olympic gold medallist with Canada’s National Women’s Team who is working towards her second Games. “We knew that we lost the Canada Winter Games, we took the bronze. That was another disappointment because we lost to Team Ontario in the semifinals. We took it to heart.

“And then losing 4-3 in that 2007 final was one of the losses that I still remember. I wish I would have done something better on the ice. Things like that, those are games that I remember that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Rougeau certainly hasn’t forgotten that Quebec led 3-2 after two periods in Kitchener on the strength of goals by Audrey Belanger-Cournoyer, Camille Dumais and Vanessa Plante (and a pair of assists from Marie-Philip Poulin). But Carolyne Prevost scored goals at 6:24 and 17:36 to give Ontario Red the win and a fourth-consecutive U18 gold medal.

It wasn’t the result that Rougeau or her teammates sought when they started the journey. But that experience has helped make Rougeau the type of player she is today. The National Women’s Under-18 Championship, a staple on Hockey Canada’s annual calendar of events, has given Rougeau lifelong memories and relationships.

“It’s how you get started,” she says. “You represent your province and you have so much pride in those tournaments, being with the teammates that you have played with for a couple of years. I remember my first U18s. It was overwhelming; you play against Team Ontario and there’s Natalie Spooner or Rebecca Johnston.

“Those tournaments can be very special because, even though you’re playing for your province, down the line you might be best friends with the person playing for Manitoba or another province if you make it up the ladder. It’s a stepping stone for the bigger stage and those are great memories that I will cherish.”

For Rougeau, the 2005 national championship was her first time playing on an all-girls team; she played with the boys throughout minor hockey.

“I had never really known that there was a women’s worlds or hockey world for just women,” Rougeau says. “It just changed my vision for what hockey meant to me. Growing up, I was the only girl on my team and that’s how it was. The U18 nationals gave me great memories. Sharing the moments, being able to have friends on the team and seeing each other grow through the year was something special. As a player, I learned a lot.”

Since the two U18 national championships and Canada Winter Games, Rougeau has been making a steady climb up the ladder. She captained Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team in its inaugural season in 2007-08, and her career took off from there.

She wore the ‘C’ for Canada at the 2008 IIHF World Women’s U18 Championship, earning a silver medal in Calgary, and was named Top Defenceman. Later that year, she joined Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team and would win gold medals at the 2010 and 2011 MLP Cup with the U22 squad.

Her first international event with Canada’s National Women’s Team came at the 2011 4 Nations Cup, five months before she won her first world title at the 2012 IIHF World Women’s Championship.

And, of course, there was the golden moment in Sochi that remains her career highlight.

But, at 27 years old, there’s certainly more on the horizon.

“I’m really looking forward to the entire journey and process,” Rougeau says of centralization. “Last time, being a rookie, you try to be in the moment but it’s hard, you always think ahead and you don’t know about all of the uncontrollable things. This time, I want to take a step back and just enjoy the moment. There are not a lot of people who go through it and it’s a dream come true.

“I’m so fortunate to do what I love and to play hockey.”

For more information:

Vacant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4567 / 905-906-5327 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

Katie Macleod
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-612-2893 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

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