Coralie Larose (left) & Kristy Pidgeon. Photo: Dan Plouffe
By Alex Quevillon
Goaltender Edith D’Astous-Moreau earned the bragging rights, but Nepean Wildcats teammates Kristy Pidgeon and Coralie Larose got the last laugh at Hockey Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Championships Nov. 9-13 in Regina.
Usually their last line of defence with their Provincial Women’s Hockey League club team, D’Astous-Moreau became the enemy on Team Quebec at the nationals for a quartet of Wildcats.
First, the Laval native earned a shutout against Kathryn Rankin and Helen Markovic in Quebec’s semi-final matchup with Ontario Blue, and then she kept Pidgeon and Larose off the scoresheet in the tournament final, though others on Team Ontario Red had better luck in their 4-1 triumph.
“You're usually teammates but you want to stop all the pucks and not let them score,” smiles 2016 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship silver medallist D’Astous-Moreau, who’s hoping to return to Team Canada for the 2017 worlds Jan. 7-14 in Czech Republic.
“I was able to do the job against two of my teammates,” adds the owner of a 1.66 goals-against-average in PWHL play this season. “It was a good challenge and a fun experience.”
Larose and Pidgeon both potted 2 points apiece as part of a checking line for Ontario Red, which won all 5 games by at least 3 goals, minus a 5-3 contest against host Saskatchewan.
“To represent Ontario and to come home with gold was an experience I'll never forget,” signals Larose.
“It was awesome,” echoes Pidgeon. “Playing on the same line obviously helped us. It's pretty special to win with someone you play with every day.”
While the five nationals participants enjoyed building new friendships with provincial teammates, they’re happy to now be back on the same side with the Wildcats, in the midst of putting together a special season for their final year in the PWHL.
The five are all high school seniors with NCAA scholarships on the horizon – Pidgeon is committed to Clarkson, Markovic to Union, Larose to Colgate, and Rankin to Penn State.
With a 16-5-1 record, Nepean currently sits 2nd overall in the 20-team PWHL, though the Wildcats have made a habit of grinding out victories with only 2 of their 16 wins coming by more than 2 goals.
“We strive for excellence in this program,” underlines Nepean coach Bruce MacDonald. “I get asked about the character of the kids they pick, and those they pick, you can't question their character – they're leaders on our team and they'll be leaders on their college teams.”
MacDonald expects 11 players to move on to NCAA Div. 1 scholarships, with others to play Canadian university hockey.
That kind of record serves as a major attraction for players from outside Ottawa to join the Wildcats, such as D’Astous-Moreau from the Montreal area, Pidgeon from Ingleside, and Markovic and Larose, both from Embrun.
Rankin, who began in Kanata, says she joined Nepean “because I knew how strong of an organization it was, from Novice to Intermediate, for helping achieve goals.”
“This is the place a lot of girls want to be,” adds Pidgeon, the team captain and points-per-game leader. “This organization shapes a lot of players.”