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SEASON PREVIEW: High hopes for women’s hockey

Photo: Greg Mason
Photo: Greg Mason

The Gee-Gees women's hockey team will start their 2021-22 season the same way they started the 2019-20 season, away to Concordia. The season gets underway at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 at Ed Meagher Arena. 

The team returns to the Minto Sports Complex for the home opener against the Carleton Ravens on Sunday at 2 p.m. 

This will be Chelsea Grills' first full season at the helm of the Gee-Gees after being named interim head coach midway through the 2019-20 campaign. Grills led the program to a record of 10-4-2, finishing the year an impressive 11-7-2 good for third place in the RSEQ. 

The Gee-Gees will be looking to carry the momentum they built at the end of the regular season. The Garnet and Grey went on an impressive 7-0-1 run, including a six-game winning streak in their final eight games. The season ended with a first-round sweep to the McGill Martlets, but Grills is confident that the best is yet to come from her group. 

"Our focus is positive and surrounded by excitement," said Grils, who spent three seasons as the team's assistant coach. "We are finally back on the ice with our young group, and we feel ready. Many of us have not competed in a year, and we cannot wait for the puck to drop this weekend." 

This season will see the Gee-Gees play 25 games with the playoffs set for March. The introduction of Bishop's University to the RSEQ brings the total to six teams with the playoff format remaining unchanged. The top four teams fighting for two berths at Nationals, which will be held in PEI in March 2022.

The Gee-Gees have not missed the playoffs since 2010-11 but the program is without a Nationals berth since the 2008-09 season.

The Garnet and Grey will look to second years Alice Fillion and Sophie Gareau to spearhead the attack. In her rookie campaign, Fillion scored eight goals chipping in with four assists, second only to Emmy Fecteau of Concordia in rookie scoring, while leading the division in goals. Gareau will look to add to her impressive rookie season which saw the Thorndale, Ont., product finish joint second among rookies in goals. 

Grills will look to the experience of Christine Deaudelin, who is returning for her fourth season, to lead this group. The defender is only one of two fourth years on this young Gee-Gees team. 

"We have a good, young team with lots of potential to develop," said Deaudelin. "We're working very hard every day and we're looking forward to a great season." 

Grills has looked to Cégep Limoilou for rookie recruits. Mahika Sarrazin, Angélique Proulx, and Gabrielle Plourde will add to the recent recruitment from the powerhouse program, joining Arianne Gagnon, Alice Fillion and Ariane Aubin who are recent alumni from the program. Of the four new faces only one, Alyssa Biesenthal, is not from Limoilou.

Grills will be joined behind the bench for the upcoming season by Greg Bowles, who returns for his fifth year with the program, and Stephanie McKoeugh, who was announced as assistant coach in Nov. 2020. 

McKoeugh, an Ottawa product, was most recently the head coach of Göteborg Hockey Club in Sweden's Svenska damhockeyligan (SDHL) and has previous experience with the Spanish Women's hockey team. As a player McKoeugh has played over 100 games with the University of Wisconsin, winning the NCAA National Championship in 2011, and represented Canada at the 2009 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship, where the team took home the silver medal. 

"We have been back on the road recruiting, but most importantly, we have been back on the ice preparing and mentoring our team," said Grills of her staff. "We have a great group of passionate young women who are excited to represent the Gee-Gees on and off the ice."

Tickets for Sunday's home opener and all uOttawa varsity events must be purchased beforehand at Any fans planning on attending an event are encouraged to read the Tickets and Gameday Information document, which includes pertinent health and safety measures. The document can be found HERE. 

Friday's game will be streamed live HERE!