Hometown: Ste. Anne, Man.
Jocelyne Larocque has been patrolling Canada’s blue line for more than a decade. The two-time Olympic medallist is preparing for her eighth world championship and was part of the Canadian team that last won gold at the women’s worlds in 2012.
Larocque is of Métis descent. Earlier this year, she was named the Manitoba Indigenous Female Athlete of the Decade, given to her by the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports & Recreation Council. In 2018, she won the Tom Longboat Award, which is given annually to recognize Indigenous athletes “for their outstanding contributions to sport in Canada.”
Larocque grew up playing on boys’ teams in Ste. Anne, Man., and was the first female to play in the Winnipeg High School Boys League. She played for Manitoba at the 2003 Esso Women’s Nationals and at the 2005 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, where she was named top defenceman.
When she was 16, she moved away from home to join the Calgary Oval X-Treme in the Western Women’s Hockey League (WWHL). She played for three seasons with the club, winning the WWHL championship each year, and also took home gold at the 2007 Esso Women’s Nationals.
Larocque enjoyed a tremendous collegiate career at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, winning the NCAA championship twice, including in her rookie year, where she was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team and All-Tournament Team. The following season, she became the first Bulldog defenceman to earn NCAA First Team All-American honours.
Larocque spent most of the 2009-10 season in centralization with Canada for the 2010 Olympics. After she was cut from the team, Larocque decided to return to the Bulldogs for the second half of the season, even though it meant forfeiting an entire year of NCAA eligibility. The defenceman posted a plus-22 rating and helped lead the team to a second NCAA championship in three years.
As the team captain in 2010-11, Larocque was once again a First Team All-American and was also named WCHA Defensive Player of the Year. She was a finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given annually to the best collegiate player in women’s hockey. She finished as the highest scoring defenceman in UMD’s history with 105 points in 127 games.
Larocque spent several years with Canada’s under-22 development team. She won gold with the squad twice at the Air Canada Cup in 2006 and 2007 and competed in three MLP Cups, taking home two more golds and a silver.
She made her debut with the senior team at the 2008 Four Nations Cup, where the team won silver. She scored her first international goal in a 6-0 win over Finland.
After being cut from the 2010 Olympic team, Larocque made her women’s worlds debut at the 2011 IIHF Women’s World Championship, helping Canada take home silver. A year later, Larocque and her teammates won gold. Since then, she has won four additional world championship silver medals and one bronze.
In 2014, she made her Olympic debut at the Sochi Games, helping Canada to a fourth consecutive gold medal and recording an assist in the gold-medal match against the United States.
Four years later at the PyeongChang Games, Larocque and her teammates would fall 3-2 in a shootout to the Americans in the gold-medal match. Larocque received some criticism from social media when she removed her silver medal during the postgame ceremony. She apologized the next day, saying her emotions got the better of her.
"It's one of those things that in moment, you're getting a silver medal — not gold — and you're training so hard with your teammates for that gold medal, your perspective is really, really narrow," Larocque told the Winnipeg Free Press earlier this year.
"Honestly, looking back, and this is no disrespect to the 2014 team, but that 2018 team was literally the best team I've been a part of. I'm not saying we were all best friends, but we were so close. We had gone through so much together and I'm insanely proud of that silver medal, I really am.”
Before the Sochi Games, Larocque was selected sixth overall by Alberta in the 2012 CWHL Draft before being traded the following season to the Brampton Thunder. In her first season with the team, she was second in scoring among Brampton defencemen and played in the inaugural CWHL All-Star Game, the first of four all-star nods in her career.
She was named captain for the 2015-16 season, and in 2018, a year after the team had relocated to Markham, she led the Thunder to the Clarkson Cup, the team’s first championship in 10 years. It would also be the last, as the CWHL ceased operations in 2019.
After the CWHL folded, Larocque, alongside many of her fellow Canadian and American national team players, joined the PWHPA with the goal of setting up a viable professional women’s league in North America.
Larocque currently plays with Team Sonnet in Toronto. At this year’s Dream Gap Tour in Calgary, she picked up an assist in the championship game, although her team lost 4-2 to Team Bauer.
Last year, Larocque took part in the Hockey Canada Skills Coach Seminar, earning a certificate as a skills coach with the national organization.
“I feel lucky that I can do this while I'm playing,” Larocque told hockeycanada.ca. “It can be challenging to fit everything in, but I love it and it's something that I want to continue even once I'm done playing.”