Coming off a slightly better than expected first season of OUA (Ontario University Athletics) participation, the Laurentian Voyageurs women's hockey team have added a new wrinkle to the coaching staff this summer.
Just a few years removed from her NCAA playing days as a member of the St Lawrence Saints, Collège Notre-Dame graduate Josée Belanger will be behind the bench as the Voyageurs open their sophomore campaign in October.
"Josée is very personable, a coach that can relate well to the players," said L.U. head coach Stacey Colarossi. "She brings a little different perspective." An assistant captain during her time at St Lawrence, Belanger understands that getting comfortable in her new role will be a process.
"I always knew that I wouldn't mind doing some coaching some day," said Belanger, who was initially approached by assistant coach Willy Montpellier a few weeks back. "I'm eager to learn about new systems. Anything that Stacey says, I'm absorbing."
While she had only just begun to travel the route of a coaching career last year, helping out with her younger siblings and providing some assistance to coach Chris McInnis and the Sudbury Minor Midget Wolves this August, Belanger will tap heavily into the teachings that were passed along to her as she works closely with the Laurentian defence corps.
"We're a really young team, so it's really still about learning the game," she said. "Knowing where to go, staying disciplined in positioning."
Never one to spend much time at all in the penalty box, Belanger insists that maintaining a balance is key when it comes to playing effectively in your own zone.
"You go for the puck, and if the puck isn't there, you definitely want to contain your man," she explained. "There's a fine line between pushing too far and containing that player." Finishing the 2013-2014 season with a record of 9-14-1, the Laurentian ladies were only a few points back of a playoff spot, looking for just that extra edge entering year two.
"We're happy to have Josee on board," said Colarossi. "Just her ability to jump into the drills during practice, providing energy. She will have a huge impact there." The Voyageur women open the 2014-2015 schedule with four straight road games in early October, battling the Waterloo Warriors, Laurier Golden Hawks, UOIT Ridgebacks, and Queen's Gaels before playing in front of the home crowd on Oct. 25 against the Windsor Lancers.