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Jocelyne Larocque, From Ste. Anne, Man., Helps Canada Win Gold

All Photos Courtesy of hockeycanada.ca

Jocelyne Larocque was cut from Canada’s 2010 Olympic hockey team. Now, four years later, she was part of the incredible team that won gold in a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind overtime victory in the women’s hockey final in Sochi. Here is the story of Larocque’s Road to Gold. The last four years were not easy for Larocque, but in the end, it was well worth the wait.

Jocelyne Dawn Marie Larocque had prepared almost every day of her 25 years for this moment. But she was so nervous, she couldn’t sleep the night before and eating, well eating was not a possibility.

Jocelyne Larocque, Team Canada. (Photo by hockeycanada.ca)

Jocelyne Larocque, Team Canada. (Photo by hockeycanada.ca)

“I’m very good with things I can control,” said Larocque, a young woman who was born and raised in Ste. Anne, Man., but left home at 16 to play professionally with the Calgary Oval X-Treme. “It seems that if I have control over something, I can make it go my way, but after that final game was played in Grand Forks, I had no idea how things would go. I didn’t know if I’d be cut or I would be told I was going to Sochi. It wasn’t in my control anymore and I knew that even though I’d played for Team Canada in the last three World Championships, nothing was going to be handed to me.”

What made things even more nerve-wracking for Larocque was the fact that all three Team Canada coaches would tell her the pros and cons of their group decision and it would also take three waiting rooms before the news was finally dished out.

Even when you’re told you’ve made Team Canada and you’re going to the 2014 Olympics, you weren’t going to be given the word matter-of-factly.

Jocelyne Larocque

Jocelyne Larocque

“They didn’t want us coming in contact with the girls that didn’t make the team so they took us through a number of waiting rooms before we got to the coaches,” Larocque said. “So I sat in one waiting room and then they moved me to another and then to another. It was like waiting three times to see the dentist.

“But when they told me, I just couldn’t hold it inside. After all we’d been through, to be told you’re going to the Olympics, well, it was just the greatest news anyone ever game me.”

For Jocelyne Larocque a lifelong dream has been realized.  This is after all, a woman who committed to the game at age 16 and has been focused on a shot at Olympic gold for the past decade.

“I started to play hockey when I was six in Ste. Anne,” she said. “At the time, I didn’t even know there was women’s hockey. I started playing with the boys and I played boys hockey until I was 12. Then I gave up the game for two years and played ringette.

“I came back to hockey at 14 and played with both the boys and the girls and then at 16, I moved to Calgary.”

It was quite a decision for a teenaged girl to leave friends, family, home and high school behind and head to Calgary to play hockey, but Larocque wanted to get to the Olympics and what better way to accomplish that feat than move to the hub of Olympic hockey in Canada – Calgary.

From 2002 -2004, Larocque had played boys hockey and girls basketball at Lorette Collegiate. In 2003-04, she became the first girl to play in the Winnipeg High School Boys Hockey League.

Jocelyne Larocque (Photo by hockeycanada.ca)

Jocelyne Larocque (Photo by hockeycanada.ca)

In 2005, however, she decided to move to Calgary to play for the Calgary Oval X-Treme.

“I made the decision to go and it was a big step but I played on teams with Hayley Wickenheiser and Cassie Campbell and what better way to develop as an athlete than to do that,” Larocque said. “Playing with the X-Treme taught me everything. Most importantly, what I needed to do to play at the Olympic level.

“I learned pretty early from Hayley and Cassie and the rest of my teammates that I had to get into better shape. I learned how to lift weights and I learned the importance of off-ice training and why it was as important or even more important than just playing the game. I remember, our strength coach had to make sure my body moved properly before he put me into a weight-training program. But it was just part of the development I had to make to reach my dream.”

Lorette Collegiate went out of its way to help Larocque finish high school and while in Calgary, she graduated from Lorette Collegiate. In 2006, she helped Canada’s national Under-22 team win gold at the MLP Nations Cup and in the fall of 2007 she accepted a scholarship to the University of Minnesota-Duluth and started playing for the Bulldogs. Her NCAA career was outstanding.

She played her first college game in October of 2007 and just got better and better each season and by 2010-11, she was one of the most decorated players in NCAA women’s hockey. The 5-foot-6, 138-pound defenseman was the WCHA outstanding student-athlete of the year, the WCHA’s defensive player of the year, a first-team All-WCHA selection and a first team All-American. She was also nominated for the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Award as the NCAA’s female player of the year. Most importantly, she got her degree in accounting.

Larocque against Finland (Photo by hockeycanada.ca)

Larocque against the United States (Photo by hockeycanada.ca)

Interestingly, despite all of her success on the ice, her brilliance in the classroom has thrilled her family.”

“The thing my mom is the most proud of is my success in the classroom,” Jocelyne said. “When I was nominated as the WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, my mom was so excited.”

Of course, during her career at UMD, she also played for Team Canada. She won silver at the 2009 Canada Cup, gold at the 2010 Four Nations Cup, silver at the 2011 World Championship and Gold at the 2012 World Championship. But on Nov. 27, 2009, she was cut from Canada’s 2010 Olympic team

“And that’s why I didn’t think anything would be handed to me this time,” she said. “I’d lived with the disappointment before. I know I’d played well leading up to the final cuts, but even though I’ve been to three world championships, they didn’t owe me anything. You never know if you’ve made the Olympics until you get handed your jersey.”

Joceylne Larocque now has her jersey. She’ll wear No. 3 in Sochi.

“It’s so exciting,” she said. “Being told I’d made the team was about the most excited I think I’ve ever been. The night before the cuts, I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep. Then, when I was told I made the team, it was like this huge weight had been taken off my shoulders.

“Now we just have to go over to Sochi and win gold.”

And, of course, they did.

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