Played On Boys Teams
As a child, Rheaume played on boys teams at school and in youth leagues. At age eleven, she played at the International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament of Quebec, the first time a girl played. In 1991, she played for Loui-seville of Quebec Tier II junior hockey. For the last place team, Rheaume's goals against average was 8.88.
From an early age, Rheaume understood that getting respect of her teammates was important, and would lead to acceptance. As her Louiseville coach Yves Beaudry was quoted as saying by Brian McFarlane in Proud Past, Bright Future, "Manon was tough, very tough. She was a good team member. She never backed down."
On November 26, 1991, Rheaume became the first woman to play in a major junior hockey game. She played for Trois-Rivières Draveurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In her first game, she went in mid-game of a tied game, and let three goals in on thirteen shots. Rheaume took a shot to the head, but stuck it out, though she was bleeding. This led to international attention, though she only played three games for the team.
Rheaume did not always play against males at this stage of her career. In 1992, she was in net for Canada's women team at the world championships. The team won gold, and Rheaume only gave up two goals in three games. There was some controversy over why she was on team: because she was known or because she earned it.