Bettez, Deschênes, Downie-Landry, Labelle, Laganière, Lefort, and Shanahan
headline historic group
MONTREAL, QC – (July 25, 2022) – The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in association with the new Montreal expansion team, has announced the first seven players who have officially signed contracts for the 2022-23 season. The historic roster begins with forwards Ann-Sophie Bettez, Kim Deschênes, Jade Downie-Landry, Alexandra Labelle, Sarah Lefort, and Kristina Shanahan, plus defender Brigitte Laganière who have all committed to join the PHF. This group of highly talented and skilled athletes collectively brings a depth of professional women’s hockey experience, collegiate success, leadership, character, and a winning culture to the League’s seventh team.
“This is a very exciting step forward for the foundation of the PHF in Montreal and across the province of Quebec,” said Kevin Raphaël, Team President. “This group is a great mix of exuberant youth and veteran experience, players with character, and who have led their previous teams to success. This is the start of a team that is going to be willing to work hard every week to win games and be role models for the next generation. We’re not just building a hockey team, we’re building a family, and I’m extremely proud.”
Bettez is the most experienced of the group with 10 seasons of professional hockey under her belt. The 34-year-old from Sept-Îles, Quebec has spent the past three seasons with the PWHPA following seven years in the CWHL between the Montreal Stars and Canadiennes. The forward was named CWHL Rookie of the Year in 2013, then earned the Angela James Bowl in 2014 as the league’s top scorer with 40 points in 23 games. The 2017 Clarkson Cup champion had her best offensive season during the CWHL’s final 2018-19 campaign where she recorded 48 points in 26 games. That year she would also compete on Canada’s National Women’s Team and earn bronze at the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Before turning pro, Bettez had a decorated university hockey career for the McGill Martlets that included national recognition as Rookie of the Year in 2008, a national championship in 2011, and U SPORTS Player of the Year in 2012.
Deschênes has been playing professional hockey for eight seasons, counting three as a member of the PWHPA and five with the CWHL’s Montreal Stars and Canadiennes where she was teammates with Bettez from 2014-19. The 30-year-old forward from Saint-Quentin, New Brunswick had her most productive offensive season with Les Canadiennes during the 2015-16 campaign, finishing third in team scoring with 33 points in 24 games. That season, the forward scored the first goal of the Outdoor Women’s Classic against the Boston Pride. Like Bettez, Deschênes is also a 2017 Clarkson Cup champion and captured a U SPORTS national crown but as a member of the University of Montreal Carabins in 2013. In 2019 as part of the Carabins’ tenth-anniversary celebrations, Deschênes had her jersey retired becoming the first women’s hockey player to receive such an honor by a university program in Quebec.
Downie-Landry turns pro after spending the past six seasons at McGill where she was a star forward for the Martlets. This past season the 26-year-old from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec won the Brodrick Trophy as U SPORTS Player of the Year, 10 years after the award was won by Bettez. In 2021-22 she led the nation with 14 goals and 27 points in only 15 games, amassing an impressive 1.80 points-per-game mark that was first across the entire U SPORTS circuit. Her university accolades also include All-Rookie Team honors in 2017, national championship Tournament MVP in 2019, All-Canadian Second Team in 2019 and 2020, and All-Canadian First Team in 2022. The captain graduates from the program with 202 career points in 163 games which ranks eighth in McGill history.
Labelle is a 26-year-old forward from Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, Quebec who has spent the past two seasons as a member of the PWHPA. She played her U SPORTS career with the Montreal Carabins from 2015-20 where she totaled 90 points in 97 games and helped the program capture a national championship title in 2016. Her best season was the 2017-18 campaign, when she scored 23 points in 20 games and earned a spot on the RSEQ First All-Star Team. Labelle also has gold medal experience as a member of Canada’s U18 National Women’s Team, recording four points in five games at the 2014 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship.
Laganière begins her professional career after helping the Concordia Stingers capture their first U SPORTS national title since 1999. The 25-year-old defender from Anjou, Quebec was named a First Team All-Canadian as part of her 2021-22 championship campaign with three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in 15 games which ranked fifth in RSEQ scoring. The alternate captain was also the conference’s nominee for the nation’s Student-Athlete Community Service Award. Her highest point total as a member of the Stingers was achieved in 2019-20 when she amassed 18 assists in 20 games, helping place her on the All-Canadian Second Team.
Lefort was a star during her NCAA career at Boston University from 2012-16 where she tallied 183 points including 92 goals and 91 assists in 146 games played. The Terriers’ second all-time leading scorer was also a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2014 when she scored a career-high 32 goals and 55 points in 38 games. Chosen eighth overall in the 2015 NWHL Draft, Lefort joined the CWHL after graduating from BU and played three seasons for Les Canadiennes. She won a Clarkson Cup with Bettez and Deschênes in 2017, then had her most productive offensive season in the league in 2017-18 with 31 points in 28 games. The 28-year-old forward from Ormstown, Quebec also won U18 gold with Canada in 2012, and has spent the last three seasons as a member of the PWHPA.
Shanahan just recently completed a successful NCAA career of her own, playing five seasons for the University of Vermont. The 23-year-old from Montreal, Quebec served as captain the past two seasons for the Catamounts, leading the program to its most successful season ever with 22 wins in 2021-22 and a spot in the national rankings. This past year was also her best statistically, as she scored 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 34 games along with a plus-minus rating of plus-25 to earn Hockey East Second Team All-Star honors. Her 150 career games from 2017-22 are tied for the most in program history, amassing 42 goals and 45 assists for 87 points in that time.
All seven players have chosen not to disclose salary terms of their contracts.
PHF Montreal officially began operations on July 12 with the announcement of its leadership group that includes President Kevin Raphaël and Vice President Emmanuel Anderson and a partnership agreement with Centre 21.02, Canada’s only recognized High-Performance Hockey Center for women athletes. An official team name and logo will be unveiled in the coming weeks along with the introduction of the team’s coaching staff and additional player signings. The 2022-23 PHF regular season schedule is still to be announced, with specific details regarding Montreal’s home games across the province of Quebec. For more information please visit PHFMontreal.com.
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, and the Toronto Six who all compete annually for the Isobel Cup. For more information visit premierhockeyfederation.com.