Beginning to End
Graduating Stingers Captain Reflects on Career
Eric Begin was lost when he came to Concordia in 2007.
Five years later, he’s on his way to a career in education—and possibly professional hockey—after graduating from the Stingers this year as captain.
“I came to Concordia when I was 21 […] and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in life or what I wanted to study,” said Begin. “I just took a bunch of random classes. One of them was an education class and I liked it, so I decided to go into the [Teaching English as Second Language] program.”
He was also dealt the realization that hockey here wasn’t at the same level as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standards he was used to after being drafted by the Hull Olympiques in 2003.
“It’s so much more serious in [the QMJHL], and of course you still have that dream of playing in the NHL,” said Begin, “It was a definite transition to make. You’re going from a junior mentality to a university mentality, which is much more school-oriented.”
Now that school-first attitude has also give him pause when it comes to his dream of being a professional player.
Last week the St. Lambert native was offered two 10-day trial contracts with ECHL teams the Trenton Titans and the Reading Royals, affiliated with the the Philadelphia Flyers and L.A. Kings, respectively. While this would fulfill a lifelong dream, Begin isn’t sure he’d be ready to uproot what he has going in school for a chance to move up to the pros.
“I want to finish my semester before I go anywhere. I’m doing pretty good in school right now and I don’t want to put my semester in jeopardy for a contract like the one I’d be getting down there,” said Begin, “Maybe next year, who knows? But I’d definitely like to go down for 10 days to see what I can do in the pros.”
Begin’s success on the ice is made even more impressive by what he’s been able to do off the ice this semester. As well as carrying a full course-load, Begin took an internship as a student teacher in November and now works as a substitute in the Montreal area.
The experience of being in charge of a classroom might have helped him in the dressing room, too. Stingers assistant coach Marc-André Element, who was the team’s captain for two seasons before Begin took over the role this year, spoke glowingly about his successor and how much he’s improved and grown since first arriving at the school.
“He performed so well this year on and off the ice,” said Element. “When he came to Concordia, a few of us had to take him under our wings a little bit and this year he just took it upon himself to be the very best he could be.
“He wanted to be the best defenseman in the league, he wanted to be the best player on the team, he wanted to be the leader of the team and he accomplished all of that this season,” said Element. “It’s not for nothing he had such a great season. He worked hard and he’ll continue to work hard, and I know he has a good future as a hockey player.”
Begin says Element, former teammate Jesse Goodsell, current teammate Michael Blundon and coach Kevin Figsby (who convinced him to come to ConU from the QMJHL in the first place) are his biggest influences during his time at Concordia.
“Marc-André was great with me during my first four years at Concordia. He really helped me out. He’s a good buddy of mine and will be forever,” said Begin. “Obviously, coach Figsby helped me a lot too, through school, life and hockey; he was great to me in every aspect.”
Overall, Begin ended the season second in scoring amongst Ontario University Athletics defensemen and earned a second team all-star nod. He also never missed a game during his five years at Concordia, proudly asserting himself as the team’s all-time ironman while racking up the most games played by any men’s hockey player to don the maroon and gold.
“Eric is a great friend and a great leader,” said Blundon, who just completed his fourth season as a Stinger. “He was voted team captain this year by his teammates, which illustrates just how trusted and respected he is.”
Unfortunately, Begin couldn’t complete his goals of winning the OUA championship and going on to a national championship during his tenure at Concordia, but he still has some fond memories of his time as a Stinger.
“The rivalry games against McGill,” said Begin, “were always intense, and we got to beat them a couple of times, especially the one time this year in their barn.
“Even though sometimes they didn’t end up the way we wanted,” he said, “It was always a good challenge and something I won’t forget.”
– with files from David Murphy
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