International Ice Hockey Federation

In grandfather’s footsteps

In grandfather’s footsteps

Bourbonnais hopes to add to family’s hockey legacy

Published 13.12.2015 11:56 GMT-5 | Author Chris Jurewicz
In grandfather’s footsteps
Jaime Bourbonnais with Team Canada White during the U18 Women’s High-Performance Camp in August. Photo: Todd Korol / Hockey Canada Images
Jaime Bourbonnais is asked about the stories her grandfather has shared.

There are many, she replies, but one sticks out for Bourbonnais, a 17-year-old defenceman who made Canada’s team for the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship on home ice in St. Catharines.

“One of the stories that I’ll never forget is when he told me of the feeling that he got when he first stepped on the ice and looked up at the crowd,” says Bourbonnais. “He said it was an unbelievable feeling. And just being able to represent his country is a feeling that he’ll never forget.”

Bourbonnais is talking about her grandfather Roger, who played in two Olympic Winter Games – helping Canada to a bronze medal at the 1968 Games in France – and four IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships.

Roger also captained the Edmonton Oil Kings to their first-ever Memorial Cup championship in 1963 as Canada’s top junior hockey club. In 1999, Roger was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame and, in 2011, he joined the ranks in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame (a substantial honour in one of Canada’s most hockey-mad provinces).

In August Jaime Bourbonnais got the first chance to do something similar to that of her grandfather. She got to put on the Team Canada jersey and hit the ice against some of the world’s best international competition.

Bourbonnais and her Canadian teammates competed in the 2015 IIHF Women’s High-Performance Camp at the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary against a mixed roster of international players before taking on the U.S. in a series of exhibition games.

This wasn’t Bourbonnais’ first time with Team Canada, as she attended two selection camps in 2014, Hockey Canada’s August and December camps.

“It was awesome that first time pulling the jersey over my head,” says Bourbonnais. “I know this is what I want to do, this is who I want to play for and I want to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps. The stories he has told me have motivated me to want to be the same as him.”

The Women’s High-Performance Camp brought together 43 of Canada’s best young hockey players, along with 23 world-class players making up an IIHF all-star squad. That team included athletes from Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Japan, Korea, and Norway.

Canada’s players were split into Teams Red and White and each played four games – two against one another and two each against Team IIHF. The 43 players were watched throughout the week by Hockey Canada’s top coaches and scouts in view of the U18 Women’s Worlds.

Bourbonnais was there hoping that the third time would be a charm. Twice last year, she was invited to National Women’s Under-18 Team selection camps but she couldn’t crack the final roster either time.

“This year, I came out as hard as I can and came in with confidence to make the team,” says Bourbonnais. “I didn’t make the series team last year so I just went back, took that as motivation and played hard with my club team and ended up getting invited back in December 2014. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it there but that didn’t stop me from pushing hard and getting better.”

Given her roots, Bourbonnais seems destined for great things on the international stage. She says hockey has always been a big part of her life, starting when she learned to skate at age 2 or 3. Her grandfather’s influence was obviously important but she says her father also played the game and says “hockey is in my blood”.

Her story has some similarities to that of Gillian Apps, a former member of Canada’s National Women’s Team who helped Canada to gold medals at the 2006 and 2010 OIympic Winter Games. Gillian’s grandfather, of course, was Syl Apps, who won three Stanley Cups as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs (1942, 1947 and 1948) and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961.

Bourbonnais wouldn’t mind having the type of career that Gillian had.

“Everybody has the same goals, the same aspirations as I do,” says Bourbonnais. “Everyone wants to put on the jersey and play for our country. The first step is to make the U18 team. That’s where I need to start and then, hopefully, get over to the U22 and then, in the future, maybe even an Olympics. That would be awesome.”


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