A former professional ice hockey and roller hockey goaltender, now retired and working as a coach and sponsor of women's hockey (and also a commercial line of women's hockey equipment). Manon's primary claim to fame was her appearance in a pre-season game for the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, making her the first woman to play in one of the four major sports leagues in the United States. Being photogenic helped her to get extra press coverage and notoriety in the 1990s.
Like many young Canadians, Manon began playing hockey at an early age (five). She was pressed into service goaltending against her brothers, the youngest of whom, Pascal became an NHL regular1. Since there are far fewer girls' hockey leagues, even in hockey-mad Quebec, Manon began playing with boys' teams. At age 11, Manon became the first girl to play in the International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament of Quebec.
At age 19, Manon joined the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Trois Rivieres Draveurs. In November, against the Granby Bisons, she entered part way through the game in relief of future NHL Vezina trophy winner Jocelyn Thibault2 and stopped 13 of 16 shots before leaving the game.
Manon became a member of the Canadian Women's national hockey team in 1992. She backstopped the team to a World Championship, as well as a second straight World Championship in 1994. Manon was voted MVP of both tournaments.
On September 23rd, 1992, Manon tended goal for the National Hockey League's expansion Tampa Bay Lightning in a pre-season game against the St. Louis Blues. Manon played one full period and stopped 7 of the 9 shots, beaten only by Jeff Brown and Brendan Shanahan. She thus made sports history as the first woman to play in one of the four major sports leagues in the United States.
After the pre-season, the Lightning sent Manon down to their IHL affiliate, the Atlanta Knights. Manon became the first woman to play in a regular season professional hockey game with the Knights on December 3, 1992 against the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. Manon appeared in 2 games for the Knights, going 0-1-0 in 66 total minutes of play.
The next year she moved to the East Coast Hockey League with the Knoxville Cherokees (2-0-1 in 4 games) and Nashville Knights (3-0-0 in 4 games). The following year, 1994-95, she appeared in two more IHL games with the Las Vegas Thunder (0-1-0) and played one period more in the ECHL with the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks (0-1-0, 4 goals for an ugly 12.00 GAA).
In 1998, Manon was part of the first ever Canadian Women's Olympic ice hockey team which won a silver medal (losing to their only true competitors, and perennial arch-enemies, the United States women's team). Olympic teammate Hayley Wickenheiser is now (Jan. 2003) set to become the first first female offensive player in a mid-level men's league in Finland.
- Pascal Rheaume is a centre with
the woeful Atlanta Thrashers at time of writing (Jan 2003). Oops, now with the New Jersey Devils (Feb 2003) also woeful New York Rangers (December 2003) St. Louis Blues (April 2004).
- Adam Walker says "Jocelyn Thibault has never won a Vezina." Well, not yet ... I did say "future winner" and I'm sticking to that story until he retires. :)