A lot has changed in a year for Canadian forward Elizabeth Giguère. A year ago, she didn’t have an agent, professional experience, or senior national team experience.
After just one year in the Premier Hockey Federation, all three of those things have changed and Giguère will continue her professional career in her home province.
The rookie of the year finalist signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Force for the upcoming season. As is the case for all contracts signed with the Montreal team, terms were not disclosed. She played last year with the Boston Pride.
“I talked to Montreal, I talked to Boston as well during free agency. It just clicked very well. My conversations with them were really good. And I just knew they were a really great organization watching them last year, how they went across Quebec, and how they were set up. And of course, coming back in Canada and playing close to home for me was a plus for sure. That’s how I came down to the decision. I am really excited about it.”
Giguère had six goals and 16 assists in 18 PHF games last season. She was coming off of a great NCAA career at Clarkson University and one year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In seven games with Team Canada in the Rivalry Series against Team USA, she had two goals.
“I was so honoured to have the chance to wear the Canada jersey and play in those seven games against the US,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been asking for. And that’s what I wanted. And I think I learned a lot this year on national stage. It was a great year, I learned a lot about myself, and I’m excited for next year.”
The Force, despite having Montreal in their name, played only two of their home games in the city, with the rest being played throughout the province. Some games were in the Montreal area, like Boisbriand and St-Jerome, but they also played as far as Rimouski and Sept-Îles, among other places.
The plan this season is to play most – if not all – home games in Montreal, although no official announcement has been made at this time. Their home opener at the Verdun Auditorium set a PHF/NWHL regular season attendance record.
Giguère signed with 3G Sports & Entertainment to represent her led by agent Spencer Gillis. Gillis is the son of former NHL player agent and general manager Mike.
“Last year, I didn’t really know much. I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t have anything. I got an agent and he’s been great to me, he’s been amazing. And to be honest, that’s made the process of making this decision so much easier.”
The 26-year-old Quebec City native hasn’t played in the province since she played in CEGEP before going to the NCAA except for the road games with Boston against the Force and two games in the most recent Rivalry Series in Trois-Rivières and Laval. Ahead of those games, Hockey Canada set up practices at Verdun’s Centre 21.02, the only high performance women’s hockey centre in the country. Giguère said those practices were the first time she was in the arena since watching Montreal Junior games.
While the Centre 21.02 is most associated with the Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association, they also host workouts and on-ice sessions for Hockey Canada players in the area and Giguère would have access to those. The Force also practice out of the centre.
“It helps being closer to a Hockey Canada hub,” she said. “Having more people around me, it’s a big plus.”
The Force are coming off of a disappointing inaugural season that saw them miss the playoffs. However, they have been very busy in the off-season – their first full off-season after being announced late into last season’s. In addition to signing Giguère, they signed last season’s PHF Rookie of the Year and Goaltender of the Year Corinne Schroeder, who also played last season with Boston.
Schroeder had a 19-1-0 record last year with the Pride, with a 1.67 goals against average and .955 save percentage. She also had seven shutouts. She played her NCAA hockey at Boston University with a fifth year at Quinnipiac.
Captain Ann-Sophie Bettez, who re-signed with the team on a one-year contract said that the team is going into next season with higher expectations.
“I think to have them on our team, they will definitely be the great assets,” she said. “Last year we lost a lot of games by one goal so hopefully Giguère will be able to score a few more and Schroeder can stop a few more.”
The Force have 15 players signed for the 2023-24 season, so more signings will fill out their roster.