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
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
“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
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
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
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.”