The 2015 CWHL Entry Draft was held yesterday afternoon. In case you haven’t already, take a look at our draft coverage from yesterday.
I had the chance to catch up with three of the newly drafted Stars at the draft.
You’re likely already familiar with two-time Olympic gold medalist Marie-Philip Poulin, Montreal’s first round pick.
Poulin played for the Stars for two seasons as a teenager before attending Boston University. She says that the biggest difference this time around is how much she's grown and matured as a person in her time at Boston University. Poulin is also excited to see the growth that the Stars and the league have had in the past four years.
After living in Boston for four years, she says that she did consider playing for the Boston Blades and the Boston Pride of the newly formed NWHL, but not for very long.
"I think I wanted to be back in the CWHL. They have a great league...coming back to Montreal, with the training facilities, the organization, just coming back to Canada would be a good decision for me. I’m happy to be back and playing for the Stars."
She’s also happy to be reunited with friends and ready to play regularly with Caroline Ouellette, a big role model for her.
Katia Clement-Heydra, Montreal’s second round pick, has spent the past five years playing for the McGill Martlets. She’s won two CIS championships with the team, and has already played with many current Stars, including Cathy Chartrand, Ann-Sophie Bettez, and Charline Labonte as a Martlet.
Going into the season, Clement-Heydra is focused on "fighting for a spot on the team" and winning the Clarkson Cup: "everyone should have that goal in mind."
She also sees next season as a transitional year for her. "I’m going from CIS to pro so it’s women playing now, it’s going to be a big step."
When asked if she considered playing for other teams, she answered quickly. "No, never even crossed my mind. Montreal all the way."
Of all her many CIS accomplishments, Clement-Heydra was most proud of winning the CIS championship, especially the second time around.
"The second time we won, it was a hard season. We almost didn’t make it there...To win that, after all the adversity, was unbelievable."
Finally, she is most excited "to be on the same team as Marie Philip Poulin."
Karell Emard was Montreal’s third round pick. She graduated from St. Lawrence College in 2012. Since then, she’s been coaching at Colgate University, a job that she says she got unexpectedly.
Getting the job meant taking a step back from playing high level hockey. Playing at a high level again is something important to her.
"I was missing playing. I coached for a few years, which I loved, but just this past year I was kind of unhappy and felt like coming back. There’s a great opportunity playing back in Montreal and having the chance to do it...it was in my head to come back and give it one more shot while I’m still young, because I’m getting old. Not taking that year off right after college, I somewhat regretted it, in a sense."
She stressed that she is proud of the work she's done as an assistant coach in the past three years but her decision to play again has "sparked the passion back up."
Emard is eager to get back on the ice and play with old teammates in front of family and friends. She's also excited to promote women's hockey in Montreal.
"If I was going to play again, Montreal was definitely the place to be...being back home with family and friends was the goal."
Montreal Stars Defenceman Lauriane Rougeau was also on hand to talk about the new draftees.
"It’s great to see all the young talent coming into the league. With first rounders Marie-Philip Poulin, Brianne Jenner, and the others, it's great to see the league get world-class players...it’s going to help promote the game."
Rougeau said that the team struggled to score goals last season, something that this crop of draft picks can definitely help with.
"We just added with Marie-Philip Poulin, Katia [Clement-Heydra], and Leslie Oles great forwards that can help us score."
The goal for next season is pretty simple.
"I want to bring back the Cup to Montreal, it's been too long."