MONTREAL FORCE ANNOUNCE INAUGURAL COACHING STAFF
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Peter Smith appointed Head Coach, Pierre Alain named an Associate Coach, Katia Clement-Heydra to serve as Assistant Coach for 2022-23 PHF season
MONTREAL, QC – (September 13, 2022) – The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in association with the expansion Montreal Force have announced the team’s inaugural coaching staff for the 2022-23 season. Head coach Peter Smith will lead the historic group, supported by associate coach Pierre Alain, and assistant coach Katia Clement-Heydra. The trio from Quebec brings a wealth of leadership experience and success at all levels of women’s hockey to the PHF and the Force.
“This is a huge moment for this team as we prepare for our first season together,” said Kevin Raphaël, Force President. “The leadership across this group is strong, their experience is second to none, and what excites me the most is how hungry they are for competition. Peter is one of the greatest hockey minds in Canadian women’s hockey history, Pierre is a hardworking man who believes in our mission, and Katia is quickly climbing the coaching ladder with her unique player’s perspective. I’m proud of this coaching staff and trust them to accomplish our on-ice and off-ice goals.”
Smith spent 20 seasons behind the bench for the McGill University Martlets from 1999-2020, becoming the winningest women’s hockey coach in program history with an overall record of 534-229-33. The Lachine, Quebec native guided his teams to four national championship titles in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2014, and was a three-time U SPORTS Coach of the Year, winning the award in 2003, 2008, and 2012. When Smith stepped down from his role, he spent the next season as a varsity coaching mentor until announcing his retirement in May 2021. On the international stage, Smith has extensive experience with Canada’s National Women’s Team, most notably serving as an assistant coach for the gold medal winning teams at the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He also won gold as an assistant coach at the 2007 IIHF Women’s World Championship, silver medal at the 2009 tournament, and another silver in 2008 while elevated as the team’s head coach.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach La Force de Montréal,” said Smith. “Having a professional women’s hockey team in the city and representing the entire province is exciting for both players and fans alike. We have a great group of talented players and a terrific organization starting with very supportive ownership. I am really looking forward to the upcoming season.”
Alain joins the Force after eight seasons as head coach of the Carleton University Ravens women’s hockey team from 2014-22. The Montreal, Quebec native also spent the 2013-14 U SPORTS season as interim head coach for the Ryerson Rams. Like Smith, Alain has experience with Canada’s National Women’s Program, serving in various roles over five seasons between the Under-22 Development Team and the National Women’s Under-18 Team. As a head coach he led the U22 group to gold at the 2013 Meco Cup and the U18 squad to gold at the 2012 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
Clement-Heydra spent the 2021-22 season as an associate coach with McGill and remains on the women’s hockey team staff in a recruitment and player development role. Her coaching experience also includes various positions with Hockey Quebec, Bishop’s University, and Collège André-Laurendeau. During her playing career, the native of St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec starred with the Martlets over five seasons from 2010-15 where she served her final two years as captain, won national titles in 2011 and 2014, and was recognized as the 2014 U SPORTS Player of the Year. She went on to play four professional seasons in the CWHL with Les Canadiennes, highlighted by a 2017 Clarkson Cup title, then spent the 2019-20 campaign with MODO Hockey of the SDHL.
“I am really thrilled to have these coaches on board, it’s a good mix of experience,” said Ann-Sophie Bettez, Force forward. “I can’t wait to have Peter as a head coach. He knows the game so well and will teach us so much. With his structure, discipline, and experience, we are beyond lucky to have him as the leader of the Force.”
There is no shortage of familiarity between the staff and many of the first-year members of the Force. Smith coached Bettez throughout her tenure at McGill from 2008-12, as well as recent Martlets graduates in forward Jade Downie-Landry and goaltender Tricia Deguire who also have experience playing for Clement-Heydra. Clement-Heydra and Bettez shared two seasons at McGill, then reunited with Les Canadiennes on teams that included Force forwards Kim Deschênes and Sarah Lefort, defender Catherine Daoust, and goaltender Marie-Soleil Deschênes. Alain coached Lefort on his U22 gold medal winning team, and also won U18 gold with her and forward Catherine Dubois.
“We are all very excited to welcome our new coaches and to hit the ice together as a group,” said Jade Downie-Landry, Force forward. “Peter carries with him a great deal of knowledge and experience that will lead our team and women’s hockey in the right direction. Many of us have had the honor to have been coached by members of this group before, and we look forward to having them guide us again.”
The Force roster currently includes 16 signed contracts, with more players to be officially introduced in the weeks ahead of the 2022-23 season. Details for the team’s home games in communities across the province of Quebec will also be announced as part of the PHF’s upcoming schedule release.
For more information visit ForceMontreal.ca and follow along on social media at @LaForceMontreal.
About the Premier Hockey Federation
The PHF is the home of professional women’s hockey in North America. Established in 2015 as the National Women’s Hockey League, the NWHL rebranded to become the PHF in 2021 and provide opportunities for elite athletes to earn a living playing the game they love while fueling the continued growth of the sport. The league is made up of the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, Montreal Force, and the Toronto Six who all compete annually for the Isobel Cup. As part of a two-year agreement with ESPN, live coverage of the 2022-23 and 2023-24 PHF seasons is available exclusively on ESPN+ in the United States, and provides international rights for games which includes TSN in Canada. For more information visit premierhockeyfederation.com.