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Montreal Force announce coaching staff for inaugural season

(Photo courtesy of PHF)

The Montreal Force announced Tuesday that two-time Olympic gold medalist Peter Smith will serve as the first head coach for the PHF expansion team.

Smith served as an assistant coach for the Canadian women’s hockey team at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics. He will be assisted by Pierre Alain and Katia Clement-Heydra.

“This is a huge moment for this team as we prepare for our first season together,” team president Kevin Raphaël said. “The leadership across this group is strong, their experience is second to none, and what excites me the most is how hungry they are for competition.

“Peter is one of the greatest hockey minds in Canadian women’s hockey history, Pierre is a hardworking man who believes in our mission, and Katia is quickly climbing the coaching ladder with her unique player’s perspective. I’m proud of this coaching staff and trust them to accomplish our on-ice and off-ice goals.”

Smith joins the Force from Montreal’s McGill University, where he served as head coach for 20 seasons and became the winningest women’s hockey coach in program history. He also helped the team to four national championships and served as a coaching mentor before retiring in May 2021.

As an assistant coach for Team Canada, he not only won gold at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Games but also the 2007 and 2009 IIHF Women’s World Championships.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach La Force de Montréal,” Smith said. “Having a professional women’s hockey team in the city and representing the entire province is exciting for both players and fans alike. We have a great group of talented players and a terrific organization starting with very supportive ownership. I am really looking forward to the upcoming season.”

Alain, meanwhile, joins the team after eight seasons at the helm of the Carleton University women’s hockey program.

Clement-Heydra joins the team from McGill, where she served as Smith’s associate coach for the 2021-22 season. She also was a two-time national champion as a player while starring for the university.

She played in four CWHL seasons with Les Canadiennes of Montreal, and she won the 2017 Clarkson Cup title with the team.

“I am really thrilled to have these coaches on board, it’s a good mix of experience,” Force forward Ann-Sophie Bettez said. “I can’t wait to have Peter as a head coach. He knows the game so well and will teach us so much. With his structure, discipline, and experience, we are beyond lucky to have him as the leader of the Force.”

The team boasts 16 signed players, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.