QU Athlete Profile: Women’s Hockey’s Mel Courtemanche

By on February 21, 2002

Deciding to transfer to a different college is always a difficult one. When you are an athlete, the decision can be even tougher.
However, if you’re Mel Courtemanche, making a decision such as this may turn out to be the best thing for you.
Courtemanche is a Junior Mass Communications major from Smithfield, Rhode Island. She is also the starting goaltender for the young Women’s Hockey Team, in it’s first year of Division I play.
Courtemanche made the decision to transfer to Quinnipiac after spending two years at Northeastern University in Boston.
Although she says the Communications program was the main reason for her decision to transfer, the opportunity to continue her athletic career pushed her along as well.
“Hockey was definitely a plus to pull me to Quinnipiac. It’s great to be able to come here and do my studies and play hockey and have fun doing it,” said Courtemanche.
Coming from an established Division I program such as Northeastern has meant some changes for Courtemanche. Having been used to strict traditions set in line by upperclassmen before her, Courtemanche has now found herself being one of the most experienced Division I players on the ice, and she is helping to set up a few traditions that will hopefully be established and carried on.
Courtemanche also said that it’s harder with a new program. In the beginning, many players don’t know what to expect.
However, Courtemanche feels that the team comes ready to play, mentally and physically, every day. She described the team as “gelled,” with no disagreements or hostility among players.
This positive outlook and attitude backs up head coach Amanda Adams description of her starting goaltender.
“Mel is a goaltender you can depend on. She earned her position and is a dependable leader.”
Adams, in her second season with Quinnipiac, has plenty of experience with young, developing teams.
She was a player at Yale for four years, moving on to be an assistant coach at both Minnesota State-Mankato and the University of Maine.
Both programs were new, so the opportunity to come to Quinnipiac had her in the right state of mind.
Adams came to the team knowing that they were not going to be undefeated, but knowing that with a positive and patient outlook, the Quinnipiac Women’s Hockey team could do great things in the future. “If you cut corners early, you’re going to lose more games in the long run.”
Adams spoke highly when asked of Courtemanche. Adams stated that Courtemanche often makes the difference in a game, and with her 90 plus percent save rate, that is easy to see. Courtemanche recorded her first shutout in December against Yale, stopping all 29 shots against her. She posted a career high 63 saves in November against the University of New Hampshire.
In January alone, she stopped 213 shots against Brown (42), Providence (50), UConn (42), and U Maine (79 in a weekend series). She has played in 22 games, and leads Quinnipiac goaltenders in minutes played, at 1,141:38. Courtemanche has also been named to the ECAC honor roll three times this season.
Courtemanche, describes her coach as someone who is “looking out for the best opportunity.” “She always wants to know how she can help on and off the ice. She gives a lot of one on one attention,” said Courtemanche
“If you need something, you know you can go and talk to her, even if it’s not about hockey,” continued Courtemanche.
With this dual admiration between these two women, anyone can see that Quinnipiac Women’s Hockey has a strong base to build from, which both are looking forward to.
Both Adams and Courtemanche see the recruitment of new players as a boost to the program. Adams sees the opportunity to recruit numbers, size, and skill.
Although the team has suffered many losses this year, Courtemanche says next year’s team, with an added recruitment class, as faster, stronger, and gelled together in their communication.
The members of the team now know what to expect out of Division I hockey, so their experience will help pass on their traditions and build this young team into something big.
So the next time you are near the Northford Ice Pavilion, and there is a Quinnipiac Women’s Hockey game on the schedule, stop in. Pay no attention to the score, but notice the sportsmanship, camaraderie, and teamwork of 19 dedicated women.
And if you happen to notice number 29 in the net, you may want to pay some attention to her as well. This talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic young woman may just be the reason why the Quinnipiac Women’s Hockey team becomes your favorite Q team to watch.


About Brianna LaBrecque