“Stop pucks,” senior goaltender Marlène Boissonnault said with a laugh when she was asked what her role has been on the team for four years.
Though the Dundee, New Brunswick, native has been a brick wall for the Red throughout her career, her impact on the team goes far beyond the space between the pipes.
Over the course of her collegiate career, Boissonnault has racked up numerous All-Ivy League and All-ECAC accolades. With 15 career shutouts, Boissonnault is tied for the third-most in school history. She also finished the 2019 season with the second-best goals against average in the nation — 1.643 — and was third in the nation in shutouts with six.
Despite her individual success, Boissonnault looks to the team’s journey as what defines her time at Cornell.
“[The highlight of my career] really has been to see the change over the four years, and the growth from the players and our program, in general,” Boissonnault said.
Boissonnault helped lead the Red to an ECAC title and its first Frozen Four appearance since 2012 this year.
“This season has been amazing,” Boissonnault said. “It’s been a goal since my freshman year to get to the Frozen Four, and obviously to win the Frozen Four, but to get there is definitely a huge achievement for the team.”
Playing numerous elimination games in overtime, Boissonnault remained poised under pressure and looks back on those high-stress games fondly.
“[The postseason] was phenomenal,” Boissonnault said. “It’s something that I’m going to remember forever. I’m going to look back at it and really think of those games. They were just crazy — the atmosphere, and the fans there, and the whole team just being so excited and hungry for every single game. That’s something that’s going to mark me for the rest of my life.”
Beyond winning games, one of Boissonnault’s goals was to spread that excitement and energy on the ice to fans. While women’s hockey still lags behind the men’s game, Boissannault has seen women’s hockey take major steps forward in her years in Ithaca.
“I wanted to make Cornell women’s hockey something to look forward to, something for fans to really be excited for, something for students to come and see,” Boissonnault said.
Boissonnault and the rest of the team seemed to succeed in this mission as Cornell had the highest average attendance rate per game in the ECAC this season.
Boissonnault isn’t quite ready to hang up her skates quite yet, as she hopes to play professional hockey next year. But after working to strengthen women’s hockey at Cornell, she’s not done fighting for equality.
Though she says she has seen improvement in gender equality at the collegiate level, it is something that she and other players are fighting for professionally: After the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s recent folding, Boissannault was one of many players who signed a letter saying they won’t play professionally until the sport reaches a viable agreement.
In a bold statement, more than 200 women – including Marie-Philip Poulin, Hilary Knight, Brianne Jenner & Kendall Coyne-Schofield – have banded together to call for an overhaul of women’s professional hockey.
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) May 2, 2019
“Right now we’re fighting just to be able to see the same as the men or even something close to it,” Boissonnault said. “Right now we can’t really do with what we have in terms of pain or the facilities we have. So right now we’re just fighting for what we deserve, what we demand, really.”
Boissannault said she’ll always be a supporter of Cornell hockey. She got a taste of the immediate future this season — sophomore goaltender Lindsay Browning dazzled in limited playing time in relief of Boissannault, and some of the Red’s top goal scorers this season will be back for 2019-20.
“I’m just super excited [for the future of the team],” Boissannault said. “I’m expecting them to really just run with it because they have really good players. Lindsay has been phenomenal. I’m excited to be watching every minute of it and just cheering them on.”