Jeanne Morin made an immediate impact with the Dalhousie Tigers women’s hockey team this year. The first-year net minder was fourth in the AUS with a .923 save percentage and led Tigers goalies with three wins in a rebuilding season where wins were sometimes hard to come by.
The Le Getz, France native grew up playing boy’s competitive hockey in France, a country where hockey ranks behind handball in terms of popularity. She then travelled to the United States where she played prep school hockey in Massachusetts for three years.
When it came time to choose, her head coach Silva Gappa, a Nova Scotia native, introduced Morin to the Tigers. She chose Dalhousie over many other programs with lucrative offers.
Morin, one of five French players in the CIS, joined a new-look, young Tigers team that started the season with 15 rookies.
“It was definitely a construction year for the team,” says Morin. “It was definitely hard, but we expected it. I think we can build from this year in the coming years and become a very strong team.”
Morin started eight games for the Tigers this season, leading the team in goals against average, save percentage and wins, though she played in a backup role to second-year goalie Mati Barrett.
Competing on the world stage
While most students will be buckling down for exams, she will be travelling to Perov, Czech Republic this Friday to compete in the 2014 IIHF Women’s World Championship April 6-12 for her native France. This will mark the second time in as many years that Morin will backstop the French squad.
Last year she played two games for France, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.50 GAA and a .906 save percentage, as France won the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record in Division I A . This year, she will look to lock down the starter’s spot as France moves into Division I in the IIHF, where they will play top teams like the Slovakians, Norwegians, Danes, Austrians, and the host Czechs.
Hockey in France is experiencing a boom as both the men’s and women’s teams are making a name for themselves on the international stage as they are both ranked top 20 in the world. Despite the surge, hockey in France is still a completely different ballgame than what it is here in Canada.
“It’s just not there yet. We didn’t make it to the Olympics this year, but our program is building and we’re getting faster now,” adds Morin. “We have a lot of strong, young players coming in, and I don’t think people realize that there are all these European teams getting stronger and stronger.”
The women’s hockey game has always been dominated by Canada and the US, and Morin represents a minority in the CIS as a European player in a league dominated by Canadians.
“Well, it’s a challenge. [When you’re not from Canada] people don’t expect you to be at their level,” explains Morin.
Although it’s not her first time representing her country on the ice, Morin says that every time she puts on the jersey it’s an honour every single time.
“It’s huge, I’m already excited,” laughs Morin. “When you realize what you have to give up to do this, you can really take pride in what you do.”
A growing hockey nation
France has improved their hockey programs with better on and off ice training to help better prepare their players for international competition. Morin says that team France is close to making the jump to Olympic competition, but she admits that every other country is working just as hard, and the women’s game is becoming more and more competitive as time goes on.
“I’m just hoping to get some good playing time,” explain Morin. “We just came up into this division, but we’ve already played a lot of these teams, and every game has been close, absolutely anything can happen.”
Morin will train with the French national team and will look to translate her hard work into a successful second season with the Tigers, who are hoping to improve next season when the team is more experienced and better adjusted to the AUS game.
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