They say that when you build a hockey team, you start in the back and work your way forward. That being the case, it's hard to find a better foundation than Olympic Gold Medalist Genevieve Lacasse.
On Aug 26, news broke that the Boston Blades traded Lacasse to the Calgary Inferno, fulfilling the team's end of a 2014 deal that sent her Canadian National Team teammate Tara Watchorn to Boston. The move, made for off-the-ice reasons which will allow Lacasse to be close to her family and take a new job opportunity, ends a stellar four-year career for the goaltender with the Blades.
Lacasse came to Boston in the 2012/13 season, splitting time with veteran netminder Molly Schaus. In 14 games that year, she lead the league in both goals against average (1.26) and save percentage (.925), earned two shutouts and recorded just one loss. She helped lead the team to its first ever Clarkson Cup Championship with a .972 SV% and a GAA of just 1.00 in the playoffs.
After playing just two regular season and one post season game with the team the following year due to her time in the Olympics, she returned for the 2014/15 season to help the team win the Clarkson Cup a second time. This time around, while sharing the crease with Brittany Ott, Lacasse once again lead the league in GAA with 1.79 and was second in SV% with .919.
Despite all these accolades, the feat that will likely endear her to Bladies for years to come was her performance last season, where she set the CWHL single season save record with an astonishing 1023 saves in 23 games. To put that in perspective, Toronto's Christina Kessler was second in saves with 541 in 19 games.
Going into the season, Lacasse knew she would be more active than in the past due to a mass exodus of players to the newly formed NWHL. Boston ended up winning just one game the entire year: a shootout win against Toronto in the second game of the season. On lesser teams, that kind of year would be crippling, but the Blades remained resilient due to strong locker-room chemistry fostered in part by Lacasse.
"Last year was really amazing team-wise. I’d say hands down, one of the top three team-teams I’ve been on," Lacasse told SBNation's Hannah Bevis. "We made practices fun, we made games fun, and I feel like I kind of found that in my game again; that it is a game at the end of the day."
Lacasse leaves big pads to fill. According to reports, there will be at least seven goalies at selection camp this year competing for the job, but that's to be expected when a team loses someone who was a cornerstone for the better part of four seasons. This is, however, an unfortunate reality in sports. Players change and the show must go on.
Calgary plays two games in Boston this season, on Oct 29 and 30 at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 a.m., respectively, at UMass Boston. Should Lacasse take the ice for the Inferno at either of those two games, she should do so to a standing ovation from Blades fans. At least, that is, until the puck drops.