| Date of Birth:
October 15, 1982
Place of Birth: Boisbriand, QC
Years on National Team:
Weight: 169 lbs
Though an alternate on Canada's 2002 Gold Medal winning women's hockey team in Salt Lake City, Charline ("Charlie") Labonté did not receive a medal because the women's roster was set at just twenty players.
Labonté, a native of Boisbriand, Quebec made news in the hockey world at the tender age of 17, when she became only the second female player behind Manon Rheaume to play in a men's major junior hockey league -- Acadie-Bathurst Titans of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. After several successful seasons in the QMJHL, she has gone on to hone her goalkeeping skills further with the Brampton Thunder and Axion de Montreal of the National Women's Hockey League.
No stranger to adversity, Labonté has been on the front lines of the ongoing battle for the two available goaltending spots on the women's national team with Kim St-Pierre and Sami Jo Small for the past five years.
An alternate at both the 2003 and 2004 World Championships, the revolving door finally swung in her favor prior to the 2005 World Championships in Linkoping, Sweden, when she finally got the call to become a full-fledged member of the squad and helped Canada to a silver medal. Throughout the grueling competition for those two slots, all three goalies have remained close friends, and acknowledge that the Canadian coaches find themselves in the difficult position of having only two slots for three quality goaltenders - who, by all accounts, would easily start for any other country in the world. In the end, Sami Jo Small ended up joining the team as a member of the Taxi Squad.
Utilizing a hybrid butterfly style, Labonté has been impressive in net during pre-Olympic tune-ups this winter, stopping 31 shots in a 3-1 win over the rival American squad in early December in Chicago, and making 19 saves in a 6-2 victory over the Swedes in Canmore, Alberta later that month. She has the lowest goals-against-average of all netminders on the women's national team -- a stunning 1.38.
It's clear that Canada will be in good hands if Labonté is called upon to work between the pipes this year in Turin, as she will be extremely driven to return home with her very own piece of gold Olympic hardware this time around.
2006 Hockey Coverage