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Canadiennes selection camp reunites familiar faces and introduces others

CWHL training camp has a first day of school feel, even for most rookies

Cassandra Poudrier was Montreal’s second round pick this season
Shanna Martin / EOTP

Being a rookie in your first training camp can be a little overwhelming, but in the case of Montreal’s first six draft picks in the 2016 CWHL Draft, they will be playing with at least one player they have already played with.

Cassandra Poudrier, Montreal’s second-round pick, played at Cornell University with Lauriane Rougeau, and also has been part of Hockey Canada’s program with several other Canadiennes.

“It’s nice to be able to know the girls before you come in,” Poudrier said. “It’s always stressful to come into a new environment, a new team, but coming in here you feel like you know half the people ... it’s definitely easy to transition into the next part of our careers.”

Along with the history playing with some of her new teammates, they also share another connection. In 2009, the Montreal Canadiens handed out bursaries to eight girls.

Three of them — Poudrier, Rougeau, and Marie-Philip Poulin — are not only with Les Canadiennes, but have played for Team Canada. A fourth, Melodie Daoust, played for Canada at the 2014 Olympics and is in her final year at McGill University.

“Women’s hockey is a small world,” Poudrier said. “So everyone knows everyone at some point. When you start playing with the provincial or national team, you definitely know someone from somewhere.

“It’s always nice to come back to Quebec and see the players you grew up with, that you played against, and now we all get to play together on one team.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Montreal’s eighth-round pick, goaltender Amanda Makela. She is one of the few players in camp to not have an obvious connection to someone else on the team.

Makela played six games with the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts last year and entered the CWHL Draft this year.

Amanda Makela was one of five goaltenders at camp. She had a 2.79 GAA and .909 save percentage in the NWHL last year.
Shanna Martin / EOTP

Goaltenders are the ones that feel the crunch of there only being nine professional teams in North America (five in the CWHL and four in the NWHL) more than any other position. You could technically be one of the top 20 goaltenders in the world and not even find yourself on a roster.

"As you grow up being a goaltender, you kind of get used to it," Makela said. "Even if you play your best there's a chance you won't get that spot and it has nothing to do with you; there are just so many good goalies."

She is one of the four goaltenders battling for the backup spot behind Charline Labonté, and appreciates the opportunity.

"Any time you play with a goalie of that calibre, it's an amazing experience. Just watching them move, watching them track the puck ... everything is so great to see and you just try and learn as much as you can. Even in the locker room, seeing what they do to prepare, all that hard work they put in really influences you as well."

Les Canadiennes wrapped up their two-day selection camp on Sunday. They will continue to hold practices and expect some announcements regarding exhibition games to come soon as well. Their season opens up on October 15 in Brampton.

2016-17 season tickets for Les Canadiennes are on sale now and can be purchased here.