Jillian Saulnier and Geneviève Lacasse couldn’t be happier earlier this month when they were acquired by Les Canadiennes in a blockbuster trade with the Calgary Inferno.
It simply isn’t usual for one Olympian to be traded, never mind two at the same time.
But in the CWHL, when players can control where they play, both decided to make the move back East.
Lacasse was born in Montreal and grew up mainly in Kingston as part of a military family, but was back in Montreal for two years in high school. Most of her family is from the area as well.
The move raised eyebrows as Lacasse now joins Emerance Maschmeyer to form likely the most formidable goaltending duo in women’s hockey. But it is nothing new for Lacasse. Her most successful years with the Boston Blades were as part of a goaltending tandem. She split time with Molly Schaus and then Brittany Ott en route to two Clarkson Cup titles.
Lacasse and Maschmeyer were part of a three-headed monster with the Calgary Inferno in 2016-17, but Lacasse is looking forward to being part of a more conventional two-goaltender system in Montreal.
“Three goalies is tough,” she said about their time in Calgary. “When you have two goalies you can push each other, help each other and feed off each other.”
As for Saulnier, she has already made history.
After her brother, Brennan, was a Montreal Canadiens invite to development camp in 2017, the Saulniers are the first brother and sister to be part of the Canadiens and Canadiennes organization as players.
“I never thought about that,” said Saulnier, who grew up a fan of the Montreal Canadiens in Halifax, said. ‘I was jealous when he got to wear the Canadiens jersey even for a camp.”
“You dream of playing for the Canadiens, and now I am.”
There still has not been an official brother and sister combination in terms of an actual contract or game played. Ryan Johnston and Markus Eisenschmid both have sisters who play hockey at the highest level but neither of them have suited up for Les Canadiennes.
Ironically, Ryan’s sister Rebecca was Saulnier’s roommate when the two played for the Calgary Inferno.
Part of Saulnier’s motivation for coming to Montreal was the chance to be closer to where she grew up in Nova Scotia. Saulnier and Inferno forward Blayre Turnbull were the first Nova Scotians to play for Team Canada’s women’s hockey team in the Olympic Games and both go back for camps in the summer and are proud of their home province.
Saulnier is looking forward to being closer to home and her family and friends and having them be able to watch her.
The CWHL off-season is in full swing as the draft will take place on August 26 and selection camps will open in September.