Former Bison named first Indigenous Olympian in women’s hockey

Photo from Hockey CanadaPhoto from Hockey Canada

Former Bison Brigette Lacquette stood alongside her 22 teammates onstage during a roster unveiling by Hockey Canada on Dec. 22 for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Buried within this already newsworthy event in a hockey-mad country was the fact that Lacquette is the first Indigenous woman named to the Canadian women’s hockey team for an Olympic tournament.

“Growing up, I didn’t really have that female role model to look up to,” Lacquette said in a Sportsnet interview. “It’s just very special for me to be that role model for young First Nations kids across Canada.”

Lacquette, a native of Mallard, Man., played six games for the University of Manitoba Bisons in 2010-11, scoring one goal and adding five assists.

Lacquette is currently in her third year of professional hockey, taking a break from time with the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League to skate with Team Canada in Olympic tuneups. The 25-year-old defender has performed well at the professional level, recording 24 points – six goals and 18 assists – in 29 career games with the Inferno.

This was Lacquette’s second shot at making the Olympic roster. She was a late cut in the run-up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. At the time, Lacquette was in her third season with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs where she recorded 20 goals and 49 assists through 106 games.

The 2018 Olympic Games won’t be Lacquette’s first time pulling on the maple leaf jersey. She has represented her country at multiple World Championships. Most recently she snagged back-to-back silver medals at the 2015 and 2016 IIHF World Women’s Hockey Championships – adding six points in nine games to her impressive resume.

A five-foot-seven right-handed shooting defender, Lacquette possesses impressive offensive upside, showing it at every level she has played. She produced at a point-per-game clip during her rookie campaign with the Inferno – doing the same during the playoffs, and followed that up with 0.74 points-per-game a season later.

She has also shown an affinity for using her size to muscle opponents off the puck, play in the tougher areas, and as Team Canada’s Brianne Jenner noted, is part of a much faster and more athletic young crop of players.

Fellow Manitoban Halli Krzyzaniak was one of the final cuts from the team; a move that was met with a measure of disappointment on social media from Canadian fans. Krzyzaniak was with Lacquette during the 2016 Women’s World Championship, and captured her second silver during the 2017 tournament. The former University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks defender will now focus on her future and professional career, likely with the National Women’s Hockey League’s Boston Pride – the Pride took her in the 2017 draft.

Canada will be entering the PyeongChang Olympics as the favourite to win women’s hockey, gunning for a fifth straight gold medal. Since the Women’s Hockey Tournament began at the 1998 Nagano Olympics – where Canada fell short against the United States to take silver – Canada has taken gold four out of five Olympics.

This will be Canada’s first Olympics without longtime star Hayley Wickenheiser, Team Canada’s all-time leader in games played (216), goals (146), and points (318), who retired back in January 2017.

It will now fall on the shoulder of rookies like Lacquette, and veterans such as future hall-of-fame candidate Marie-Philip Poulin to come together and defend their country’s title. Team Canada is slated to open the tournament on Feb. 11 against Russia, though with the recent ban on Russian participation it is unclear if this will change.