1983 – John Bilodeau
Making Her Mark in Canada
In Canada, in March 1983, 12-year-old Aimee was the first Clinton girl to score an O.T. winning goal. It was the final tournament game against Saint Lambert. John Emery assisted Aimee in that exciting tournament-ending goal. Interestingly, Aimee might not have been allowed to be on ice at that tournament.
When head coach Jake Kane arrived in Montreal for this tournament, the organizers discovered there was a girl on the Clinton peewee team. Montreal rules say all teams playing in Montreal must be exclusively boys. After bussing up to Montreal, rather than benching Aimee to play in the tournament, Jake Kane, Mike Isles, the Lamatos, and others at the event applied pressure to the Canadian organizers to reconsider and formally authorize an exception to the all-boys rule. Their plight was successful, and Aimee was allowed to play. Not all participating team coaches and players were happy with the decision.
All players had to billet, too, and this meant a girl player from Clinton had to billet with a Canadian boy’s family. The coach of the Saint Lambert team literally forced his team’s captain (his son) to billet with Aimee at his family’s home. The boy was predictably uncomfortable that he drew the straw, and was the recipient of a lot of mockery and pestering from his Canadian teammates. It was a great experience for both, and the same player billeted in Clinton when the team visited while participating in a tournament at the Clinton Arena.
The O.T. tournament-winning goal by a girl was Aimee’s best “first” ever. And the entire peewee team celebrated together and, on the bus ride from Montreal back to Clinton, Aimee was treated by her teammates as a hockey player, not a girl!
– John Bilodeau