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Mylene Lefebvre: the next mountain lies ahead
2024-03-29
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Mylène Lefebvre is no stranger to scaling to new heights.

Over the course of a 17 year hockey career, her clear-cut sport of choice throughout her youth and young adulthood, Lefebvre would (with the help of her teammates) sometimes conquer the summit (OWHA champions – 2019), falling just a few steps short on other occasions (Esso Cup – silver medallist – 2019; U Sports Championship – bronze medallist – 2024).

Yet as she closes the book on this chapter of her life, her graduation from the Université de Montreal business program just months away, the talented 22 year old forward is quite likely to set her sights on at least one more mountain to scale.

Her competitive playing days on the ice behind her, Lefebvre is at least contemplating revisiting her dream of climbing to the highest peak in each and every one of the Canadian provinces and territories.

That willingness to tackle the very next challenge that lies ahead has marked the hockey journey for the daughter of Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre and spouse Lyne Giroux for as long as she can remember.

“In my head, it has always been hockey,” said Mylène, just a few days removed from a dramatic 2-1 Montreal Carabins shootout victory over the Waterloo Warriors in the bronze medal game, a triumph that required a game-typing goal from Juliette Rolland (Montreal) with just 25 seconds to play.

“In the winter, it was always hockey – but the summer sports would sometimes vary: soccer, lacrosse, softball,” Lefebvre added. “I would mix it up.”

Topping out at 5’2”, the eldest of three children in the family (younger brothers Henri and Theo are also quite active in sport), Lefebvre would find a way to overcome. “Coaches saw my vision for the game and how receptive I was to coaching,” she stressed. “I would take whatever the coaches would say to me and try to apply it in practices and games.”

And while she might not be facing defenders that are sized in the OHL norm (6’0” plus), Lefebvre nonetheless needed to alter her game following an injury in her first year of Lower Lakes League hockey.

“When I was 13, I got a concussion and it really influenced me,” she said. “I had to learn how to protect myself, how to get into the corners properly, how to stay strong on my feet, even if I was shorter.”

Ironically, the same season turned out to be something of a watershed moment for the highly diversified young woman. With her Peewee AA Lady Wolves team agreeing to play all of their home games in Vaughan, the crew became the first Sudbury entry at this age group to tackle the challenge – not to mention the breeding ground to countless hockey friendships that Lefebvre continues to maintain.

“Travelling to Toronto every second weekend, playing three games (in about 24 hours) – looking back now, that’s pretty crazy,” she said. “But those girls that I met were so special. Coming back to Sudbury, even after I left for two years (playing in Ottawa with NAHA and the Nepean Wildcats – PWHL) and not losing the dynamics of those friendships, that was really important to me.”

And though it was likely the adult-led coaching staff that truly recognized the benefits of making the jump, Lefebvre was hardly oblivious to where her hockey pathway might be heading.

“I think that was really important (to play Lower Lakes) – but we were still so young that we didn’t realize the true importance of it all. But I think you see what’s out there. The year before, we were playing house league boys.”

Like most who make the jump to U Sports, the transition from minor hockey did not come easy for Lefebvre. “I’ve had some difficult times with my coaches, which I think is normal for the position I was in,” she said. “But the team chemistry we had was so crucial to my development and my wanting to stay, especially with two years of pandemic.”

And for as much as Lefebvre was hardly a prolific goal scorer in regular season play, her ability to shine in special moments, in the biggest of games, was almost uncanny.

Netting a pair of goals in an opening game win over New Brunswick in 2023, Lefebvre again broke the ice at the 2024 nationals for the Carabins, helping her team to a 4-2 upset over the second ranked UBC Thunderbirds. It’s entirely possible that she scored as many goals in playoff action as she did throughout four seasons in the RSEQ.

“Honestly, sometimes, it’s a bit of luck,” she suggested quite humbly. “I’m not sure you can attribute luck to two or three seasons – but sometimes, you do just get lucky and get a one on one with a goalie or get a rebound that somehow ends up on your stick.”

Though these memories will stay with her a lifetime – hers is a lifetime that now needs to move on from hockey.

“The pandemic had a big impact on me, making me realize that hockey is not everything in life,” noted Lefebvre. “I’ve given 17 years of my life to the sport, leaving the house when I was just 14 years old. I think I need one or two years of maybe a bit of normalcy, doing things that I haven’t been able to do.”

And for as much as scaling mountains might not be normal to everyone, it most certainly is for Mylène Lefebvre.

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