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Les Canadiennes Season Review: Julie Chu

Julie Chu did not disappoint in her first full season as a defender for Les Canadiennes

Shanna Martin

Julie Chu has been with Les Canadiennes for six seasons, but this year she faced a new challenge. In the middle of last season, Montreal was thin on the blueline and decided to move Chu, who had mainly been a forward, to the backend. This year, she returned there for her first full season as a defender and didn't disappoint.

Chu was a finalist for the CWHL's defenceman of the year award this season, after finishing seventh in scoring among defencemen despite playing in only 15 of the team's 24 games.

She was also one of the two players voted by the fans as captain at the CWHL All-Star Game and if you spoke to her, you would never know that you were speaking to one of the best players to ever put on a jersey.

One thing that Chu brings to the team year in and year out is her leadership ability. The former Team USA captain is an incredibly well-spoken and highly respected voice in the locker room. Chu has also proved to be an elite CWHL defender.

She had played as a forward at Harvard University and with Team USA, which might account for her natural offensive flair on the back end. Chu has a tendency to join the play down low, but is fast enough to get to centre ice should the puck squeeze out of the offensive zone.

The four-time Olympic medalist was the acting head coach of the Concordia Stingers women's hockey team this season, which was the reason she missed so many games. She was originally supposed to be an assistant but when Les Lawton took a medical leave of absence, she stepped into the main role with Mike McGrath. She was still able to balance the two responsibilities nicely, even in the playoffs.

In the second game of the CWHL semi-final against the Toronto Furies, Chu's afternoon started with the Stingers Quebec playoff game that spilled over into the CWHL game. Chu showed up part way through the first period after getting changed in the back of her dad's car, but was no worse for wear. She went on to score two goals in the team's win.

She had initially been awarded a hat trick, but one of the goals was actually tipped by Caroline Ouellette. Chu had to settle for player of the game with two goals and one assists.

One of Chu's undeniable strengths this season was her work on the power play. Les Canadiennes were a team that dominated with the extra player this season, forcing opponents to scramble to keep them at bay when they found themselves in the penalty box. Chu racked up a team-leading eight power play assists in the regular season, to go with a power play goal. She added two power play goals to her tally in the postseason.