18.4 C
New York
Monday, October 2, 2023

Good fortune smiles on Larocque – Winnipeg Free Press

It’s hard to imagine the Professional Women’s Hockey League Draft unfolding any better for Jocelyne Larocque.

The veteran Team Canada blue-liner was chosen second overall Monday by the PWHL’s Toronto franchise, which means she will be able to synchronize her professional playing career with her fitness and conditioning business she co-owns from her home base in nearby Brampton, Ont.

A return to league play — Larocque hadn’t played on a pro team since the 2018-19 Markham Thunder of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League — will make a huge difference in the women’s game. Having the security of a domestic league could also impact how long she extends her playing career.

                                <p>Jocelyne Larocque would like to add to her Olympic medal haul at the 2026 Winter Games in Italy.</p>


Jocelyne Larocque would like to add to her Olympic medal haul at the 2026 Winter Games in Italy.

“Prior to this we weren’t playing professional hockey so there’s a lot of things to weigh when you’re deciding whether you’re gonna play or not,” Larocque, a Ste. Anne product, said Tuesday. “And as much as we all play for the love of the game, it does change a little bit now that you can actually make a living. And it’s not that players on the national team weren’t making a living, but this is in a professional setting where there are contracts and things like that.”

Toronto and the five other PWHL franchises are currently under a signing/roster freeze until Thursday. Clubs are prohibited from negotiating with their drafted players or inviting free agents to training camps, which are slated to open on Nov. 13.

Being drafted by Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury also reunited the 35-year-old with her national team defence partner, Renata Fast.

Fast was one of the team’s three free-agent signings prior to the draft and the duo is arguably the league’s finest.

“We’ve played a lot together in the most recent years, so there’s obviously a familiarity there,” said Larocque. “And she’s one of my closest friends on the team and so to be able to continue playing with her is nice.”

Her long-term plans?

“My goal right now is the 2026 Olympics (in Italy),” said Larocque, who won gold at the 2014 Sochi and 2022 Beijing Games and a silver at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. “I don’t put too too much thought into (beyond that). I mean, there’s so many things can happen in that amount of time.”

It’s been a busy time for Larocque.

Earlier this month, she was a member of the Canadian team that won the gold medal in the women’s masters (35-and-over) division at the World Ball Hockey Championships in Buffalo, N.Y. Her sister, Chantal Fritzsche of Winnipeg, was also a member of Team Canada, which beat the U.S. 5-0 in the tournament final.

“I see it as a part of my training,” said Larocque. “It’s a hard sport — there’s no gliding in ball hockey — and it’s extremely challenging. There are obvious similarities to hockey but there’s a lot of differences — even just shooting a ball is so much different than a puck. So there’s a lot of differences that make it humbling, that’s for sure. But it’s a super-fun sport and it’s something that I see myself playing for a long time.”