Thanks to the generous support of important donors, the Bishop’s Gaiters hockey team will compete at the U SPORTS level in the Réseau du Sport Étudiant du Quebec (RSEQ) University Women’s Hockey Conference at the beginning of the 2020-21 season.
With a lead gift from the Molson Family Foundation as well as support from Molson Coors, the Bishop’s University Foundation and other donors, the Gaiters women’s hockey can aim higher.
“To this day the name of the Jane and Eric Molson Arena testifies to the Molson family’s unwavering support for Bishop’s. For all they have done – and continue to do – for Bishop’s University, we owe them our most heartfelt thanks,” said Bishop’s University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Michael Goldbloom, C.M.
“We wanted to make sure we had a viable long-term plan before committing,” said Bishop’s University Director of Athletics and Recreation Matt McBrine. “Thanks to the Molson Family Foundation, that became possible. We will continue our fundraising efforts, but we can confidently say that we embark on this adventure knowing the program has what it needs to evolve and thrive.”
“I think this is great news,” said Gaiters hockey Head Coach Dominic Desmarais. “We have been looking forward to hearing this was going to be the next step and now can focus on the future. I think Bishop’s is a great place to attract student-athletes from all over. There is also a lot of talent in the Sherbrooke area that will now have an option to stay closer to home while competing at the U SPORTS level.”
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From 1933 Bishop’s University yearbook, plausibly the oldest photo of a Gaiters’ women’s hockey team in our possession.
The Bishop’s University Gaiters becomes the first Quebec team outside of Montreal to enter the RSEQ that now features six U SPORTS schools including current national top-10 teams Concordia, Université de Montréal and McGill. Carleton, Ottawa and now Bishop’s round out the six-team conference.
Women’s hockey at Bishop’s dates back to 1915. Since then it has taken a number of forms. Most recently the Gaiters competed in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) where they were Division 2 semifinalists in 2018 and 2019. The Gaiters’ 2019-20 schedule consists of a series of exhibition games.
Dominic Desmarais is in his second year as head coach and will lead the Gaiters as they embark in the next stage of their history.
The 2019-20 edition of the Bishop’s Gaiters will continue to play a number of exhibition games in preparation of next year. The 2020-21 RSEQ schedule will be released later this year. Conference regular season games begin in October and culminate with the U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship in March.
According to a 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation report, there are about 86,925 women hockey players in Canada.
In its 2018-19 annual report, Hockey Québec counts 6,353 female hockey players at all stages, from Initiation to Midget categories; 668 of them are in the Eastern Townships region.
In 2016, according to a your-college-hockey.com website tally, of 775 college level Canadian women hockey players, about 300 were playing for American university teams.
The Gaiters will be the 37th U SPORTS-level women’s hockey university team in Canada. There are also currently 35 men’s hockey teams at the same level.
Female student ratio as percentage of total student population at Bishop’s currently: 55 per cent (1,458/2,867).
Female varsity athlete ratio as percentage of total varsity athlete population at Bishop’s currently: 39 per cent (125/322). This includes the current women’s hockey team.
Average GPA of Gaiters women hockey team last year: 72,4 per cent.
Three Women’s hockey Gaiters would have qualified as Academic All-Canadians last year had they been eligible.
Recent evolution of the Gaiters Women’s hockey team:
- 2019-20 season: exhibition games only vs. teams from U SPORTS, NCAA and various other opponents.
- 2018-19: American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 2; Semifinalist at National Tournament in Frisco, TX.
- 2017-18: ACHA Division 2; Semifinalist at National Tournament in Columbus, OH.
- 2016-17: Independent women’s Club Hockey League (IWCHL).
The first Men’s Gaiters hockey team was formed in 1892-93, and joined a league in 1895-96. The last season played was 1981-82.