First, a quick disclaimer. The following story in no way means Lauriane Rougeau is getting ready to skate away from Canada’s National Women’s Team. On the
contrary, her focus is squarely on adding another gold medal or two (or more) to her collection.
But it never hurts to be prepared.
Rougeau has spent the last two years of her life balancing hockey and school, anchoring the blue-line for the Canadiennes de Montréal of the Canadian
Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) while pursuing a master’s degree.
After a year spent in Calgary, Alta., preparing for her first Olympic Winter Games, one that ended with a thrilling overtime win over the United States in
one of the most talked-about Olympic gold medal games ever, Rougeau returned home to Beaconsfield, Que., and came to a startling realization.
“I came back, and I didn’t know what to do with my life,” she says. “Should I go back to school, and for what?”
Rougeau graduated from Cornell University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences, but that wasn’t exactly a field that screamed out
‘life-long passion’ for the 25-year-old.
Having spent most of her life on the ice, it didn’t take long to decide that sports, and hockey in particular, was where she felt most comfortable, and
where she could see a future past her playing days.
“I decided that I wanted to stay involved in sports, especially hockey; that’s my passion,” she says. “I feel that I really want to give back to the sport
that has given me so much. I looked around at some programs, there was one at Brock [University], but it was a little further from home, and then there was
one in Ottawa.”
So began a whirlwind two years that included hockey in one province, and school in another.
In her first semester, Rougeau made the two-hour drive to the University of Ottawa on Sunday night or Monday morning, following her games with the
Canadiennes (then known as the Montreal Stars), had classes from Monday to Wednesday, returned to Montreal for hockey practice on Thursday, then went back
to Ottawa for a Friday class, and back again to Montreal for weekend CWHL games before starting all over.
To help ease the pressure, Rougeau avoided dorm life in the nation’s capital and instead settled in with the family of Team Canada goaltender Geneviève
Lacasse, who lived in Limoges, Ont., just east of Ottawa.
“The Lacasse family took me in; they welcomed me with open arms and became my second family,” she says. “It was an hour and 20 minutes away from my house,
so it was really nice of them to host me and have me. I really enjoyed my time with them; coming back from school, having a meal with them, playing with
And while she excelled in the classroom, it wasn’t at the expense of her on-ice performance.
Rougeau finished ninth in scoring among CWHL defencemen during the 2014-15 season, helped the Stars to a spot in the Clarkson Cup final, and appeared in
her third IIHF Women’s World Championship, winning silver with Team Canada in Malmö, Sweden.
With the school year done and hockey season finished, Rougeau headed west once more, back to Calgary. But this time, instead of stepping onto the ice, she
used her contacts – namely, general manager of national women’s team programs Melody Davidson – to get involved with Hockey Canada in a different way.
“We had to do an internship to complete the master’s. I knew I wanted to do something with hockey, and I was able to get on with the events and properties
department,” she says. “I was helping plan for upcoming events, worked a lot on the online hosting manual that Hockey Canada has for host committees, and I
also worked on the Summer Showcase, hosting the U17, U18 and junior camps, and the female camps.”
A veteran of events and camps from her rise through the Team Canada program, Rougeau was excited to see the game from the other side, and find out just
what goes into making Hockey Canada events a success.
“It was really an eye-opener,” she says. “There is so much work that goes into an event with game-day operations. My feet were so sore at the end of the
day, because I wasn’t wearing the right shoes.”
After another year of school and another season with the Canadiennes (she was the third-highest scoring defenceman in the CWHL, was a finalist for the
Defenceman of the Year award, and made a second consecutive trip to the Clarkson Cup final), the balancing act paid off; Rougeau is now the proud owner of
a master’s degree in human kinetics from the University of Ottawa, with a concentration in sports management,
So what’s next?
Off the ice, Rougeau hopes to get involved with the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal, to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Hockey Canada
pulls off one of the biggest tournaments in the game.
On the ice, she’s in Kamloops, B.C., for a fourth IIHF Women’s World Championship, looking for a second world title to join her 2012 gold. Attention then
starts to shift towards centralization in the summer of 2017, on the road to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea.
But she’s not forgetting about what could come after that.
“My focus is definitely hockey,” Rougeau says. “I want to make the Olympic team for PyeongChang. My focus is really there, but I want to build my résumé
for after the Olympics, so I have something there. I want to have a good balance between keeping a focus on hockey, but also having something on the side.”