For much of Dominique Bernier’s life, hockey arenas, dressing rooms, tight laces, and sharp skates have simply been part of her daily routine.
By day, she is a teacher at Glen Avon School in St. Paul, but after hours, Bernier helps coach the St. Paul Xtreme Oilfield Midget girls’ hockey team. And often after her duties as coach have wrapped up, she then hits the ice to take part in a sport she’s loved for the past 22 years.
“I like to think of myself as a positive role model for any young women wanting to pursue their hockey career further,&” says Bernier, who was scouted out of high school (Athol Murray College of Notre Dame) to play Canadian Interuniversity Sport in the Atlantic University Sport for the St. Thomas Tommies in New Brunswick.
It is through her experience playing hockey at a post-secondary level that she learned many lifelong skills, such as managing her time effectively, being a leader, and perseverance. She also built “unforgettable friendships&” along the way.
Being the captain of the St. Thomas team for a couple of years, Bernier clearly has leadership qualities that now help her as a coach.
“I continue to stay involved in the sport as an adult because I enjoy passing my knowledge and love for the game on to others. Like any good coach, I have a great team of coaches that help on and off the ice promoting this game.&”
Bernier’s intensity and passion for the game is clear within just a few moments of being in the dressing room. On Sunday morning, she offered her midget hockey players some tips between periods, during a hard-fought game against Bonnyville.
The game was a close one, with the St. Paul team fighting to get on the scoreboard for 55 minutes. With just five minutes left in the third period, Jazmin Zaparniuk finally found the net, tying the game at 1-1, and giving the home team the needed motivation to keep pushing.
Not long after Zaparniuk’s goal, Cassandra Hannin capitalized on a breakaway, and scored the game-winning goal – a perfect ending to a morning dedicated to girls’ hockey.
In an event dubbed simply “Girls Hockey Day,&” the St. Paul Minor Hockey Association encouraged female players in the association to put on their St. Paul Canadiens’ jerseys, and enjoy a morning of special treatment at the midget hockey game.
Jason Hannin, Travis Saskiw, and Sue Stybel helped put the event together.
The younger Canadiens’ players were allowed into the midget team’s dressing room before the game started, and during the first intermission, giving them a chance to experience a pregame speech, and see firsthand the camaraderie that exists between players on the team.
“It is very important to let young girls, and parents know that there is a future in girls hockey if you wish to pursue it,&” says Bernier.
The St. Paul Midget Girls finished third in their standings this season. Dustin Dickson and Jay Duffie also help coach the team, and push the girls to reach their potential, says Bernier.
As of Monday, the team was still waiting to see who it would be facing in the first round match up in playoffs.