Provincial title team is managed and based in the West End
They are the champions ... the Dawson Blues celebrate their championship after the final game.
BY NOAH SIDEL
It has been quite a journey this season for the Dawson Blues women’s hockey team. From the outset of training camp, the team looked like it was ready for its best season yet – but 33 wins later, even the team itself can’t believe the season it had.
Mark this one up in the annals of local sports history: The Dawson Blues are the 2006-07 provincial college hockey champions. “I’ve been involved with some truly great teams over the years in hockey and baseball and I’ve never seen a team go undefeated before,” said team manager Lionel Geller, who launched the team in 1998-99. “For me, winning the championship is like the culmination of everything. We didn’t win for a few years, then we started winning a few here and there. By the fifth year we started developing our program and winning more and more, and then to move to the top was exciting. “To win it all now shows that not only does Dawson have a great hockey team, we also have a great school and a great program for girls to aspire to.”
The Blues were set back early on by the national tragedy that struck their school – an insane shooting rampage in the halls and atrium food court that saw several students injured and one killed on Sept. 13, 2006.
The girls stuck together, however, and used the incident as motivation. “We’ve really banded together and decided to dedicate the season to the victims,” said second-year centre Caroline Stephens at the time.
At that point, so early in the season and so early in the school year, few, including Stephens and Geller could have imagined what this team was going to accomplish.
Seven months later, the Blues knocked off defending champion St. Jerome to win it all. “We won every game in the semifinal and final by one goal, including a 1-0 game in the semifinal against St. Laurent,” Geller explained. “Every game was close and I said to the girls that I’m an old guy and that a guy my age might have a heart attack with so much excitement! “They told me they’d try to kill the other teams, but it just wasn’t happening.”
Instead, Geller’s girls did it the hard way – but they did it. “It was just nerve wracking. That’s the only way to describe it. We have so much firepower though, that when it came to overtime or it was a close finish, we just believed,” he said. “There are just too many players that can put the puck in the net. We just always believed we’d win in the end.”
That belief in each other came in handy as the Blues opened their best-of-three final series with St. Jerome – the only team that has beaten Dawson in two years.
Not only did the Blues have great players from all over the Montreal region this year, Geller has counted on local players and support from the get-go. “This year, we only had one NDG player – Maria Scandella, but in the past we’ve had many, and we’ll have many more in the future,” he said. “We’ve had some good support locally because we’re an NDG-managed, coached and based team. We’re proud to be associated with NDG.”
Game 1 was a 2-1 overtime win at Concordia’s Ed Meagher Arena in NDG, and the Blues closed it out with a 3-2 win over St. Jerome last Tuesday on the road.
The win was sweet redemption for both the Blues and one player in particular. “We had one girl, Myriam Croussette, who was the last cut from Team Quebec for the Canada Games earlier this winter. The coach who cut her is the coach of St. Jerome, so she had extra motivation to win this championship,” Geller said.
Crousette made the most of it, scoring the series-winning goal in Game 2. “That was an exciting moment. She was good enough to make Team Quebec, so it was sweet justice for her and we were ecstatic for her! That was a great way to finish an unbelievable year.”
The 2006-07 provincial champion women’s hockey Dawson Blues are: Kathryn Tooley, Julie Arsenault, Ann-Sophie Bettez, Lori Miller, Mallory Lawton, Maria Scandella, Vanessa Emond, Sara Dagenais, Alexandra Garcia, Karell Emard, Meghan Geirge, Katrina Giuliani, Melissa Gagnon, Jessica Sylvia, Caroline Stephens, Emily Marshall, Stacie Tardif, and Myriam Croussette. The coaching and support staff is made up of Scott Lambton, Derek Mott, Andrea Lambton, Bruno Petrilli, John D'Amico, Amelie Desgagnes, Paddie Chiara, and Lionel Geller.