Mélodie Bouchard. File photo
By Alex Quevillon
It can't be easy turning common enemies into teammates in such short time. Nor can it be easy coming just short of a gold medal to take home.
But Mélodie Bouchard of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees savoured her time at the Jan. 29-Feb. 8 FISU World Student Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan nonetheless, despite the bittersweet finale.
“The experience was amazing. I’m really thankful to have been part of this,” signals the Canadian women’s hockey team’s #2 scorer at the tournament. "It was a big tournament and it looks like the Olympic Games with the opening ceremony and the athletes’ village. Everything was big there. We were treated very well.”
If the Canadians didn’t feel settled in already with their accommodations, they certainly were by their easy road through the preliminary round.
Bouchard, the Gee-Gees’ leading scorer when she went overseas, needed less than 7 minutes to pick up her first marker in a 9-1 blowout win over China. She added a hat trick in a 14-0 win over Great Britain, and with 11-0 and 8-0 wins over Kazakhstan and USA (in the semi-final), Canada took a 42-2 goal differential into the championship game against Russia.
“It was tough to lose gold,” says Bouchard, held off the scoresheet in the 4-1 final. “But finishing 2nd shows the efforts we had all tournament. I think I played as well as I could all tournament and my linemates had helped me a lot to perform well, so I'm happy with the performance.”
Sprinkled throughout the lineup were a number of players who are rivals in Canadian university competition on most days, including former Nepean Wildcats Provincial Women’s Hockey League star Maude Laramée, now with the Université de Montréal Carabins.
“I play all regular season against the Carabins, so I played against Laramée, (Jessica) Cormier, (Alexandra) Labelle and (Catherine) Dubois, and for this tournament, they were my teammates,” Bouchard notes. “That was special.”
Upon returning, the Sept-Îles, Que.-born forward was instantly thrown back into the middle of a playoff race. Her Gee-Gees wound up dropping a double-overtime contest to McGill in their series opener, and then forced a deciding game with Bouchard’s winning goal in a 2-1 home-ice win before falling 5-2 in Game 3 on Feb. 26 to come within a win of qualifying for the nationals.
Bouchard views the FISU Games as an experience that will definitely prove beneficial to her career long-term.
“I think I understood lots of things with Team Canada to help me to be a good leader with the Gee-Gees,” underlines the 2016 national university rookie-of-the-year. “I’m so thankful for the amazing experience in Kazakhstan.”
4 Ravens men win hockey bronze
Four Carleton Ravens also brought home hockey hardware from the FISU Games. Team Canada leading scorer Michael McNamee, Cody Van Stralen, Brett Welychka and Corey Durocher earned a bronze medal with the Canadian men’s team.
The teammates connected for a key goal (Welychka from McNamee and van Stralen) to put Canada up 3-1 in the bronze medal match they wound up winning 4-3 over Czech Republic.
University record & biggest medal haul of meet for Seltenreich-Hodgson
Rio 2016 Olympian Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson was the most decorated athlete at the Canadian university swimming championships to lead her University of British Columbia Thunderbirds to the national team title.
The Nepean-Kanata Barracudas/GO Kingfish product won 5 gold medals and 2 silver while setting a new (short-course) championship record of 2:08.09 in her signature 200-metre individual medley race.
Gee-Gees swimmer Montana Champagne earned 3 medals himself at the Feb. 24-26 nationals in Sherbrooke, winning 400 m IM gold alongside 2 silver.
Wrestler completes legacy
University of New Brunswick wrestler Ilya Abelev joined select company as one of the few athletes to win a fifth-career Canadian university title by capturing the men’s 72 kg division at the Feb. 24-26 nationals in Winnipeg.
Abelev didn’t allow any of his opponents to score a single point and was named the outstanding male wrestler at the competition.
With medical school on the horizon, the Earl of March Secondary School grad
maintains a perfect record in the classroom as well with a 4.3 (A+) GPA.
Fellow UNB wrestler/Ottawa native Alex Brown-Theriault won silver in the men’s 82 kg event.
Local basketball teams reach Ontario conference finals
Three of the four local university basketball teams will compete in Ontario University Athletics championships from Mar. 3-5. The #1-ranked Ravens men will host the OUA Final Four event that also features the #3 Gee-Gees men, while the #4 Ravens women will go to Queen’s.
The Algonquin Thunder women have also reached their Ontario college finals tournament.