Montreal Force name coaching staff

The Force have a wealth of experience behind the bench

With the franchise’s inaugural season fast approaching, the Montreal Force has its coaching staff. Peter Smith has been named the team’s first head coach and he is joined by associate coach Pierre Alain, and assistant coach Katia-Clement Heydra.

“This is a huge moment for this team as we prepare for our first season together,” said Force President Kevin Raphaël in the PHF release. “The leadership across this group is strong, their experience is second to none, and what excites me the most is how hungry they are for competition. Peter is one of the greatest hockey minds in Canadian women’s hockey history, Pierre is a hardworking man who believes in our mission, and Katia is quickly climbing the coaching ladder with her unique player’s perspective.”

Smith, 69, brings an abundance of experience and insight from two decades behind the bench of the University of McGill Martlets (U Sports). He’s a three-time U Sports Coach of the Year and has experience with the Canadian women’s national team, including gold medals for serving as an assistant coach in 2006 and 2010. Clearly, he knows what it takes to win and develop elite players.

Alain also has substantial experience coaching collegiate women’s hockey and is no stranger to the national team. He was head coach of the Carleton University Ravens women’s hockey team from 2014-22 and has been a coach for Canada’s U18 and U22 teams. In 2012, he was the head coach of a U18 squad that featured Sarah Lefort and Catherine Dubois of the Montreal Force.

The last piece of the puzzle is a name that should be very familiar to followers of the CWHL and Les Canadiennes. Katia Clement-Heydra, 32, played four years for Les Canadiennes and one season for MODO in the SDHL after a standout career at McGill where she is currently serving in a recruitment and player development role after one season as an associate coach. Clement-Heydra also has significant experience as a skills coach working with collegiate players.

In her CWHL career, Clement-Heydra scored 78 points in 102 games and won the Clarkson Cup in 2017. She is very familiar — as in, winning a championship with familiar — with a number of the players who will be on the ice for Montreal, which should not be overlooked as this expansion team searches for both chemistry and its on-ice identity in the first months of the 2022-23 season.

As a trio, this group should have a firm grasp on what they need to do to get the most out of Montreal’s roster, which is still coming together. As of today, the Force have 16 players signed. PHF teams need a minimum of 20 players and can sign a maximum of 25 players. As of yet, no Force players have disclosed their salaries, so we have no way of knowing what kind of cap space is left.