Chloé Nicolas tops MWHSHL coaches poll

Renards’ forward dominated women’s high school league


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Chloé Nicolas is one of the youngest players in the Manitoba Women’s High School Hockey League, but that hasn’t prevented her from becoming one of the best.

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Chloé Nicolas is one of the youngest players in the Manitoba Women’s High School Hockey League, but that hasn’t prevented her from becoming one of the best.

The 14-year-old forward, a Grade 9 student at Centre scolaire Léo-Rémillard, ran away with the MWHSHL scoring race in 2022-23 and is one of the chief reasons the Renards have reached the league final.

Nicolas, who topped the Free Press’ inaugural Top 10 poll of high school coaches, has 34 goals and 48 points in 25 games.

“She’s a very unique player,” says Renards head coach Mariella Daigneault. “I like to say she’s a triple threat. She not only has speed, not only has puck-handling ability but she’s also got a great shot and that (combination is) not something you see very often.”

Nicolas’ skillset may only be matched by her appetite for the game.

In addition to high school hockey, she also stars with the Saints team, scoring 61 goals and 101 points in 40 games while leading that team to an appearance in the Winnipeg AA U15 Female League final.

“I’ve never really seen her have too much of a off day or a bad day,” adds Daigneault. “She is consistently giving out a 110 per cent effort.”

Juggling the games and practices of two hockey teams along with her academic commitments can be a challenging but not impossible task.

“I feel like the main thing that I do is rest,” says the 5-4 Nicolas. “So, even on weekends, my friends are always asking me, ‘Oh, why do you go to bed at 9 p.m, or 10 p.m.?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I’ve got to get my rest to be able to sustain that the whole week.’”

The season-ending schedule is a little complicated, however.

The Renards open their best-of-three league final against the Churchill Bulldogs on Friday at 4:20 p.m. while the Saints are still waiting for their final opponent to be determined.

With double-rostering common in the female game, Nicolas, forward Talia Jones, blue-liner Chloé Delaquis and goaltender Emma Khan all do double-duty with the Renards and Saints.

“The female game is growing and you’re going to see younger girls at a higher skill level than you’ve ever seen before, and this year is a testament to that,” says Daigneault. “I have a younger team this year, for sure, and at least half of it being Grade 9s and 10s and they’re just incredible.

“From that specific team, the U15 Saints team, I have four girls and all of them just exhibit a higher skill level in their game and higher maturity in their games than any other Grade 9s I’ve really seen play the game before.”

For her part, Nicolas says her skating and shot are skills that can always use an upgrade. In her first year as a blue-liner in the Saints program four years ago, she went the entire season without scoring.

“My goal is to make AAA (next season) and go from there, so I’m trying my best to improve on the points I need to work on to be able to get to the next level,” she says. “I would say that’s my goal for now and then from there, I’ll decide where I want to go.”

Game 2 in the MWHSHL final is scheduled for Tuesday 4:20 p.m. A third game, if necessary, would be played Wednesday at 4:20 p.m. All games are slated for the Dakota Community Centre.

“It’ll definitely be a challenge for us,” said Nicolas. “I mean, (the Bulldogs) do have some good girls. They’re supposed to have a small roster on the bench and I feel like if we just work hard every shift we could outskate them and it’s definitely a team we can beat.”

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.


Updated on Thursday, March 9, 2023 8:00 PM CST: Updates goals, assists and points for Jeri-Ann Lafleche

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