February 25, 2010

Girls' hockey: Portfolio with pop

KEVIN THOMAS

— By

click image to enlarge

Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Wednesday, January 27, 2010....Cheverus girls hockey goalie Saundrine Lanouette is also a model, recently signing with the prestigious Ford Agency in New York.

click image to enlarge

Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer... Wednesday, January 27, 2010....Cheverus girls hockey goalie Saundrine Lanouette is also a model, recently signing with the prestigious Ford Agency in New York.

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Her ongoing smile is deceiving, because Saundrine Lanouette is serious at what she does.

And what she does, she does well -- whether it's playing in goal for the undefeated Cheverus High girls' hockey team or pursuing a career as a model.

When Cheverus begins its state playoff push this Saturday, the 18-0 Stags will be overwhelming favorites -- in large part because of Lanouette. She has played in 13 of Cheverus' 18 games, and has faced 166 shots.

Only four pucks got past Lanouette. Her statistics are gaudy: 97.6 save percentage, 0.39 goals-against average.

''She is real cool under pressure,'' Cheverus Coach J.P. Lavoie said. ''She doesn't get rattled. Very strong. Instincts very good. She holds her ground in front of the net; doesn't over-commit.

''Very fundamentally sound.''

'RELENTLESS WORK ETHIC'

Lanouette, 17, arrived at Cheverus that way, the product of solid instruction and her own hard work. It began at the Mites level (ages 6-8) with that familiar scene of a coach asking for volunteers to be goalie.

Lanouette raised her hand.

''We won 11-10, but it was fun,'' Lanouette said.

She allowed 10 goals and had a blast. A career began.

''She really loves the position of goaltending,'' said Bob Mills, the former Falmouth Middle School coach and one of those credited with giving Lanouette her strong foundation.

''It's her dedication. She has a relentless work ethic,'' said Mills, who has coached youth and school hockey for 21 years. ''By the time she was in eighth grade, she was the best goalie I ever coached, boy or girl.''

Attending camps, especially those by Nashville Predators goalie coach Mitch Korn, and playing travel hockey kept improving her game.

Lanouette's strength is smothering shots. Of the four goals she's allowed, none were rebounds. She takes her lessons and applies them instantly on the ice.

RELUCTANT AT FIRST

''Coaches must love her because she picks up direction well,'' Stewart Smith said.

Smith is not a hockey coach. He's a professional photographer, having moved from Portland to Boston. He was one of the first to shoot Lanouette, when she asked her mom if she could try modeling.

While Lanouette was excited about modeling, her parents were lukewarm at best.

''I wasn't really excited about it,'' said Kathy Lanouette. ''But if it was something she wanted, we figured we'd give it a whirl.''

Jason Lanouette remained leery.

''All you hear is what a difficult industry it is, how they get used up and cast aside; a lot of rejections,'' he said.

The parents were also concerned about modeling becoming a money pit for lessons, test shoots and consulting. After a couple of stints with New England agencies, Kathy took some photos of Saundrine and, on a whim, sent them to the renowned Ford Agency in New York.

''Three months later, we received an e-mail, saying they wanted more pictures,'' Saundrine said. ''Then they wanted a video. Then they asked me to meet them in Boston for an interview.

''Then they told me to go to New York, and they handed me the contract.''

That was last April. Since then, Lanouette has made periodic visits to New York for test shoots.

The photos from those visits make Kathy laugh: ''I showed the photos to the grandparents and all they said was, 'She's not smiling.' Because that's who Saundrine is -- she always has the smile on her face.''

A CHOICE AWAITS

What is also comical is to see the slight Lanouette swallowed up by her massive goalie equipment. It does not seem to fit, but Lanouette moves well.

Lanouette's physique has nothing to do with any drastic modeling diet. She has celiac disease, a condition that does not allow her to eat foods with wheat, rye, oats and barley.

''I love food,'' Lanouette said. She just has to be careful of what she eats.

And Lanouette loves hockey. She's a self-described rink rat with a Sidney Crosby poster on her bedroom wall.

But she may be giving up the game. Her plan is to return to New York this summer to work with Ford. Then she will attend a college nearby in the fall.

Lanouette has been accepted to Hofstra on Long Island and Quinnipiac in Connecticut, 90 minutes north of New York City.

A few schools, including Dartmouth, inquired about her playing hockey, but they were too far from New York. Hofstra has a men's club team, and Quinnipiac has a Division I women's team, which would require a huge time commitment.

So this month may be one of Lanouette's last as a competitive goalie. If all goes well, she will see every puck coming her way, a focused, serious look on her face.

Then the mask will come off, and there will be the smile.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

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