Mélodie Daoust reflects on an impressive year

The Canadian Olympian talks about the Olympics, the CWHL, coaching

It’s been quite the year for two-time Canadian Olympian Mélodie Daoust. The 26-year-old helped Canada win silver at the Pyeongchang Olympics, got a new job with the Montreal Carabins, and became a mom with her partner.

The 2018 Olympics featured Daoust anchoring Canada’s top line with Meghan Agosta and Marie-Philip Poulin. The trio carried the bulk of offensive responsibilities for Canada. Despite coming up short in the final, Daoust loved her experience.

”Amazing,” Daoust said, of her time in Pyeongchang. “Our team chemistry was phenomenal. I think it was one of the best I’ve been on. I just think that if we didn’t have that outcome at the end, and have the silver medal. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to play on. It was an unbelievable experience. South Korea treated us very well.”

Lost in Canada’s shootout loss to the U.S. was an Daoust’s shootout deke. While fans across North America were on the edge of their seats with nerves, Daoust was cool as a cucumber.

How exactly does a hockey player craft such a move with a gold medal on the line?

”I think just by watching others,” Daoust explained. “Sometimes I see what players are doing and I love watching the game so much. That’s how I learned the game, and how to be creative. Yes, I did see [Peter] Forsberg doing it. It’s a matter of out-waiting the goalie, and practicing it more, and more. To be honest, sometimes it doesn’t work, but it feels good when it does.”

A lot of times you can look like a goofball if you try to outsmart yourself and try to be too creative. Daoust had that particular move down. Not only was she prepared and confident, but she had Maddie Rooney in mind when she was working in practice.

”When you go in the shootout, it’s already stressful,” Daoust admitted. “When the coach sends you, it’s because they trust you can put the puck in the net. I’ve been practicing all year. You need to be confident in a shootout whether you are going to shoot or deke. The move or shot you’re going to take, you need to have balls. If you (score) get it, it’s cool, if you miss it, too bad. I was hoping it was going to go in.”

Looking forward

The skill level and opportunities in women’s hockey has certainly come a long way since Daoust first started playing hockey in Valleyfield, Quebec. There are professional leagues with the top hockey players in the world competing each season

”I would say a lot, little kids have improved a lot since I was young.” Daoust said. “You can see it in women’s hockey. Now basically they have summer camps, and female hockey teams. It’s quite impressive to see. The level of hockey, they are way more skilled, and they practice way more.”

While skill level brings fans out of their seats, it doesn’t always equate to on ice success. Les Canadiennes are a perfect example of that. Ousted in the CWHL semi-finals, they have one clear goal in mind for next season.

Win the Clarkson Cup.

If Hilary Knight returns — along with Daoust, Poulin, Lauriane Rougeau, and recent addition of Jillian Saulnier — Les Canadiennes could be head and shoulders above the rest.

”Yeah, I think so.” Daoust said, when asked if Les Canadiennes are the team to beat. “We have really good players, and I think we have a goal in mind to win the Clarkson Cup. Unfortunately Les Canadiennes didn’t make it, and didn’t make it to the final. That’s a big challenge for us to bring back the Cup to Montreal.”

Speaking of Knight, if fans of the CWHL and NWHL find it strange to see the face of USA Hockey competing for Les Canadiennes, you’re not alone. Having the best players in the world competing at the Olympics, and then in the same league, on the same team, takes some getting use to. Not only for supporters, but also new teammates.

”At first, I thought it was bizarre,” Daoust said. “But if you go to a professional level, that’s what you want. If we want to be treated like a professional league, at the end of the day we want the best players in the CWHL. If they come from Europe, China, or wherever, they are more than welcome to play in our league. It’s going to improve us.”

If that isn’t enough to keep her active. Daoust has committed to a coaching role with RSEQ’s Montréal Carabins. Daoust will be on the ice a couple of times a week

”I’m going to be a part-time assistant coach.” Daoust explained. “At least twice a week for the next three years. I’ve been looking forward to working with them. I want to become a better coach. I’m really excited to get going.”

Women’s hockey doesn’t come around every four years just because the Olympics are happening. Athletes like Mélodie Daoust are working away to help become better hockey players, and at the same time they want to make sure that the next wave of talent has more access, and better opportunities than they had. That’s what Daoust is all about.

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