Gascon makes QMJHL history
by Lucas Aykroyd|20 MAR 2022
Eve Gascon, who played for Canada at the 2020 U18 Women's Worlds, became the third female goalie to play in the QMJHL after Manon Rheaume and Charline Labonte.
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images
Eve Gascon’s name now belongs in the Canadian hockey history books. The Laval native became the third female goalie ever to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) on Saturday. She had 18 saves for the Gatineau Olympiques in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Rimouski Oceanic.

“It was a very good experience,” Gascon told the media. “It was stressful, but at the end of the day, it was very nice. I couldn’t be more proud of myself.”

The sell-out crowd of 4,700 at Gatineau’s new Centre Slush Puppie chanted the 18-year-old’s name as she made several highlight-reel stops, including flashing her glove to foil Rimouski forward Louis Robin in tight with under nine minutes left in regulation. She looked increasingly poised as the game went on.
Gascon was preceded in the QMJHL by two Canadian women’s hockey legends.

Trailblazer Manon Rheaume – who also appeared in a 1992 exhibition game for the Tampa Bay Lightning and started for Canada at the 1998 Olympics – suited up for the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs on 26 November 1991 with 14 saves in relief in a 10-6 loss to the Granby Bisons.

Charline Labonte debuted with 28 saves when the Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the Drummondville Voltigeurs 7-4 on 23 September 1999, and the future three-time Olympic gold medallist (2006, 2010, 2014) would total 28 career QMJHL games with the Titan.

Heading into her historic debut, Gascon was happy to receive supportive messages, not only from Labonte, but also from Team Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin and Daniele Sauvageau, who coached the Canadian Olympic team to gold in Salt Lake City in 2002.

“They’re all idols for me, so it was really nice to have these texts from them,” said Gascon.
Olympiques head coach Louis Robitaille was pleased with his decision to insert Gascon for his West Division-leading club with starter Remi Poirier currently injured. Gascon also won two of her three pre-season games with Gatineau.

“I can’t say it enough of how proud I am of her,” Robitaille said. “This was tough. All the media attention, the’s a lot. I told her to go out and enjoy it.”

She is no stranger to competing against male players. The 171-cm, 81-kg goalie became the first full-time female starter in Quebec’s midget AAA league in 2018 and has spent the last two seasons with the Saint-Laurent Patriotes of the QCHL (Ligue de Hockey Collegiale du Quebec).

Gascon has a promising track record in IIHF competition as well. She helped Canada earn a silver medal at the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, posting a 1.39 GAA and 93.8 save percentage in four games.

The Canadian senior women’s national team, of course, boasts great depth between the pipes. The duo of Ann-Renee Desbiens and Emerance Maschmeyer shone en route to gold at both the 2021 Women’s Worlds in Calgary and the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Still, Gascon – a 2023 University of Minnesota-Duluth commit – looks well-positioned to make her mark in Olympic or Women’s Worlds play before this decade ends.
Her QMJHL debut was another big spotlight moment for women’s hockey, which is also generating post-Olympic buzz with talk of a Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) league potentially launching later in 2022.

Right now, Gascon will savour what she’s accomplished with Gatineau, setting an inspirational example for other young women who want to pursue their hockey dreams.

“I can’t even begin to describe what I was feeling,” Gascon said. “I had my best friends and family in the crowd, so it was really special. It was a great moment. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.”