Marie-Joëlle and Audrey-Anne Allard push each other to be better everyday
There’s a saying in hockey that your teammates become your family. But for two players on the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey team, that’s already the case.
Sisters Marie-Joëlle and Audrey-Anne Allard have been playing hockey together since CEGEP, when they played for the Titans du Cégep Limoilou in Quebec City.
“We’ve been playing with each other for a while, so it’s not that different at the university level,” Marie-Joëlle said. “But it’s nice to have someone you’re close with.”
“It’s fun to have someone on the team that you can have confidence in,” Audrey-Anne added.
Both Marie-Joëlle, a fifth-year player, and Audrey-Anne, a third-year, play defence. Even though Marie-Joëlle plays on the right side and Audrey-Anne on the left, they don’t play on the same pairing.
“We don’t have the same style of play,” Audrey-Anne said. “She’s more offensive, and I’m more defensive.”
The Allard sisters are from Victoriaville, where their parents and younger brother still live. Nonetheless, their parents and grandparents come to Concordia to watch their games. Marie-Joëlle said having both sisters on the team keeps their family on edge during games.
“My mom says, ‘I always have one girl on the ice, so I’m always stressed,’” Audrey-Anne added with a laugh.
The sisters have been living in an apartment together ever since Audrey-Anne came to Concordia in 2015. Marie-Joëlle is 25 and Audrey-Anne is 23, but they’re only 15 months apart.
“We are sisters, but we are also two good friends,” Audrey-Anne said. Even though they live together in Montreal during the school year and in Victoriaville during the summer, Audrey-Anne said it isn’t a challenge to be with each other all the time. “It’s just easier. We are always pushing each other [to be better],” she said.
Marie-Joëlle added: “For sure sometimes we have our little moments where we need to be alone, but we get along pretty good.”
Head coach Julie Chu said Marie-Joëlle and Audrey-Anne are great teammates, and she sees how the sisters encourage each other on the ice.
“It’s great when you have two sisters that are able to play hockey at the elite level,” Chu said. “It’s a really special thing. It’s a testament to how hard they work, and how hard they push each other to be better.”
The Allard sisters are helping turn the Stingers into a winning team on the ice. When Marie-Joëlle first joined the Stingers for the 2013-14 season, they went 5-15-0. By the time Audrey-Anne started playing for the team, the Stingers were winning more often, and even went to the national championship last year.
Even though the team finished with a 10-9-1 record last season, they upset the second-place Université de Montréal Carabins in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) semi-final. They won the best-of-three series with 6-2 and 3-2 wins, with both Marie-Joëlle and Audrey-Anne picking up an assist in game one. The sisters agreed that winning the playoff series, which was the first time the Stingers won a playoff series since 2005, was the best moment they shared together at Concordia.
“The energy [on the team] was so high,” Marie-Joëlle said.
“When we won, we were just excited and we wanted to just give [each other] a big hug,” Audrey-Anne added. “We were proud of each other.”
The Allard sisters want to continue that winning pedigree with the Stingers this season. Audrey-Anne said she thinks they can win the national championship this season, but Marie-Joëlle said the team needs to have a one-game-at-a-time mentality in order to win. But she added that it’s great to see how much the team has improved since she started.
“It’s amazing to see the girls getting better every single week,” Marie-Joëlle said. “It’s something I’m proud of, because I was there at the beginning when the girls weren’t really great. So it’s been a big change, but an impressive one. On and off the ice has been amazing, and I just want to keep building on that.”
Audrey-Anne gets exhilarated just by watching her teammates play. “When I’m on the bench, I get so excited to see my teammates doing plays that last year they couldn’t do,” she said.
Marie-Joëlle was voted team captain by her teammates this season after Tracy-Ann Lavigne graduated last season.
“Anyone has the ability to be a leader, but MJ has shown in her five years how she’s been able to be an impact player on our team, and her teammates honoured her in that way,” coach Chu said.
Marie-Joëlle said being named captain doesn’t change the way she interacts with her teammates or how she plays on the ice.
“To have a letter on your jersey or not, it means the same thing—you’re part of the team,” she said. “Just having the C this year means I have to be a good example for my teammates. It’s good to have a little recognition from your teammates, but it doesn’t change anything.”
Audrey-Anne said she is proud of her big sister. “It just proves that she sets a good example and has good leadership for us.”
Photos by Brianna Thicke