VANCOUVER, B.C – Mélodie Daoust is one of the most exciting hockey players in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). The 24 year-old was part of Team Canada that won Gold at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and she has continued her rise in hockey with McGill University.
The Martlets captain will be looking to lead McGill at CIS National Championship March 17-20 in Calgary, Alberta. McGill has competed in back to back CIS National Championship Finals. In 2014 they defeated the Montreal Carabins 4-3 in double overtime. Last March, also in Calgary, McGill ran out of gas and lost 5-0 to the Western Mustangs.
McGill finished the Quebec RSEQ regular season with a 13-5-2 record. Daoust racked up 28 goals and 24 assists in 32 games. That also included a trio of hat-tricks, with the most recent coming during the final game of the season, a 4-1 win at home vs Concordia University.
Head Coach Peter Smith’s team swept the Ottawa Gee-Gees before being swept themselves in the RSEQ Championship series vs Montreal. McGill earned the 5th spot at the CIS Nationals Championship and will play the UBC Thunderbirds in the 4 vs 5 matchup.
Daoust describes what McGill Martlets Hockey is all about.
“We are a really fast team,” said Daoust. “I think we have a lot of speed. We also play with a lot of structure, which is to our advantage. We have a good four line calibre team and we can roll all four lines and keep the momentum.”
As the leading scorer for McGill and a Canadian Gold Medallist, you might think that Daoust feels a bit of pressure to light the lamp and carry the scoring load for her team. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I really don’t look at this,” she said. “The only thing I worry about is winning. If our team does great, I’m happy. If we don’t do great, we need to improve. I’m not a player that looks at personal stats. I put the team first. We just need to come out strong and play the best we can.”
If you’re Max Pacioretty or Mélodie Daoust there is a pretty strong likelihood opposition defenders are going to be out to double team you in the defensive zone. You can almost guarantee UBC defenders will be delivering some stick work, and extra little bumps. Daoust is used to the extra attention and will look to setup her teammates.
“It’s a game of hockey; yeah, maybe they’re going to cover me,” revealed Daoust. “If they do great, because all of our other players are awesome. They’re going to be able to do the job as well. Either way it’s good for us.”
The Valleyfield, Quebec native, was unavailable for an earlier match against UBC on Sunday, September 20 in Kingston, Ontario. The Thunderbirds prevailed 3-2 thanks to three unanswered goals. Although that match was almost six months ago, players from both teams haven’t forgotten.
Can either team take any advantage from that game?
“I remember it was a very long time ago,” recalled Daoust. “We can’t base anything even for us or for them on that; we can’t take anything from it. We’ve grown as a team. What we want to do is really focus on our team and what we can do.”
With UBC having an extra bit of confidence gained from taking down then seeded number 1 McGill, will the Martlets be looking to take on an underdog role? They lost the RSEQ Championship and thus will have a much tougher road to the CIS National Championship Final game on Sunday, March 20.
“I don’t know if it’s an underdog roll,” Daoust stated. “All the teams that are going there deserve to be there. The CIS has grown so much. We expect them to be good and hopefully we can be good and play our best hockey.”
It sounds easy enough, but the key for all eight teams competing at the CIS Nationals will be to win the first game. In a single elimination format you’ve got to win three matches in a row over four days. Avoiding injuries, impromptu penalties, and turnovers will be key for any McGill momentum.
Mélodie Daoust and her Martlets teammates will be one of the most experienced teams in the tournament and they certainly have the pedigree to win the Golden Path Trophy.
“For us it’s going to be to play a full 60 minute game,” Daoust feels. “Take it period by period and move on. It’s a quick turnaround we play a lot of games. We need to focus on our strengths.”
The fourth-year centre currently has her concentration squarely with McGill and the CIS National Championship. Daoust will return for her final season with the Martlets next fall. Beyond that she has her eyes on the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). Specifically Les Canadiennes de Montreal.
“Moving forward, I think I’m going to play for the CWHL,” divulged Daoust. “We’re going to see once I get there. Right now I’m really focusing on this season and next year it’s going to be another amazing season. Hopefully I get recruited by the CWHL.”
The CWHL would be off their heads not to have a player of Mélodie Daoust’s talent in there league. The UBC Thunderbirds and every other opponent will have to closely mark Daoust during the CIS National Championship tournament this week. It only takes one Daoust wrister to send a team home.
Here is the CIS National Championship Schedule. Mountain Times listed.
Thursday, March 17.
11:00 Quarter-final 1: No. 8 St. Thomas vs. No. 1 Guelph
15:00 Quarter-final 2: No. 5 McGill vs. No. 4 UBC
Friday, March 18.
11:00 Consolation 1: Loser QF 1 vs. Loser QF 2
15:00 Quarter-final 3: No. 6 Western vs. No. 3 Saint Mary’s
19:00 Quarter-final 4: No. 7 Calgary vs. No. 2 Montreal
Saturday, March 19.
10:00 Consolation 2: Loser QF 3 vs. Loser QF 4
14:00 Semifinal 1: Winner QF 1 vs. Winner QF 2
17:30 Semifinal 2: Winner QF 3 vs. Winner QF 4
Sunday March 20.
9:00 5th-place game
1. Guelph Gryphons (OUA champions: 21-2-1 regular season / 5-1 playoffs)
2. Montreal Carabins (RSEQ champions: 15-3-2 regular season / 4-0 playoffs)
3. Saint Mary’s Huskies (AUS champions: 17-6-1 regular season / 4-2 playoffs)
4. UBC Thunderbirds (CWUAA champions: 16-9-3 regular season / 4-2 playoffs)
5. McGill Martlets (RSEQ finalists: 13-5-2 regular season / 2-2 playoffs)
6. Western Mustangs (OUA finalists: 15-8-1 regular season / 4-2 playoffs)
7. Calgary Dinos (Hosts: 12-12-4 regular season / 0-2 playoffs)
8. St. Thomas Tommies (AUS finalists: 16-7-1 regular season / 5-2 playoffs)