The Fearless MJ Pelletier is Ready to be a Leader for the Beauts
By Nathaniel A. Oliver
Buffalo Beauts defender Marie-Jo Pelletier is a natural when it comes to leadership and playing much larger than her 4-foot-11 frame. The level of hustle and intensity in her game quickly makes you forget about her size and instead focus on her heart.
Possessing what could only be described as fearlessness, Pelletier has all the tools to be one of the best shot-blockers in professional women's hockey. She developed a penchant at a young age for placing herself in front of vulcanized rubber, which came from a desire to prove that good things can come in small packages.
"I would have to say the biggest thing for me is that I've always wanted to show that my height doesn't matter," Pelletier said. "I think putting my body on the line and blocking shots are one way of showing the heart that I have, and the sacrifice that I'm willing to make for my team. It started when I was back in high school. I would really lay my body on the line to block shots. I took a lot of pride in that and saw how it motivated my team. When I got to college, it was a way to show people that I belonged there. I'm willing to do anything to help my team out."
Shot-blocking takes more than just guts. It’s a lot less devil-may-care than casual observers may think it is, and the same is true for those who are best at it. Shot blocking is one of the game’s most underappreciated skills, but players are always quick to celebrate the big ones. Pelletier must be mindful of her positioning and the trajectory of the shot and execute with perfect timing to turn pucks aside and then be able to spring immediately back into action.
Last season, she blocked 44 shots in 36 games at UNH, which was good for third on the Wildcats. She finished second on the team in blocked shots as a junior, getting in the way of 59 shots in 36 games. Pelletier is also an impact player on the other end of the ice. Last season, she led the Wildcats in power play assists (7) and led the team's defense in shots on goal (72).
"The part of training I like to do the most started in college," she said. "It's called plyometrics. Squats, jumps, lunges and more. I really like that part of training, but I also like doing weights and stuff like that to get stronger. It's that explosiveness that I like about the plyometric workouts. Just trying to get faster and more explosive."
Humble and soft-spoken, Pelletier is nonetheless one of the Beauts’ true leaders. She is very much capable of rallying the troops and her dedication and relentless work ethic are sure to influence Buffalo’s young roster. Pelletier is all about positivity and focus, especially when her team is trailing on the scoreboard.
"In moments like that it's just about getting the first one and staying positive,” she explained. “You can only start with one goal and go from there. I try to get my team excited. Try to make a big play. Maybe that's blocking a shot or a good battle in the corner. Things like that can help turn the momentum around."
A key part of Pelletier’s resolve during games is her faith. She also turns to her faith to calm her nerves and prepare herself for the world’s fastest team sport. Even for veteran players, it’s easy to get swept up in the anticipation of a big game against a heated rival, which is why so many players take a moment to center themselves.
"There is one thing that I always like to do to before a game," she shared. "I like to sit in the stands or tape my stick, but I also pray before every game. That's something that I always do, and I always find the time to do. Whether I have time before the game, or while I tape my stick, or if it's just before going out onto the ice, I always like to pray. It's awesome when I see that other girls from other teams do it, or post about it. It's cool when you can see the faith part really growing into sports. It's cool what it can do."
Photo courtesy of MJ Pelletier.