Rookies Shine in First Preseason Win for Men’s Hockey Team
Hugo Roy and Chase Harwell Score in 4-1 win over UQTR Patriotes
The Stingers looked to be in good shape for their first game since an offseason of heavy change. It was only preseason but there were plenty of encouraging signs for the team’s coaching staff.
Their leaders, Carl Neill and Philippe Hudon looked hungry, their starting goaltender Marc-Antoine Turcotte looked to be in midseason form, and they won against a division rival that gave them trouble last season.
Despite all this, what really stood out were the team’s rookies.
It was a large rookie class brought in this offseason to replace the likes of Anthony Beauregard, Massimo Carozza, and Raphael Lafontaine.
Coach Marc-André Élément recruited a group of rookies in the double digits this season and it seemed to have payed off in their first preseason test.
A new league with a high level of competition wasn’t much of a bump for rookie centre Chase Harwell, who scored the game winning goal on a second period breakaway.
“I got a great breakout pass from [Neill] […] I don’t know if I lost it myself or the puck hopped but I ended up at the side of the net and tried to throw it back on net and it went off his butt right in,” said Harwell, laughingly.
Along with his offensive output. Harwell handled the fast and physical style of the U Sports game well for a new player. His play centred around speed and hard hits at both ends of the ice and he didn’t look out of place among a group of older, more experienced players.
“It’s fun. It’s an aggressive game. Every check is finished. The adrenaline is always going. I love it,” said Harwell.
His physical play was certainly exceeded by fellow first year play Zachary Zorn who had a strong presence from his first shift on the ice.
Zorn brought a tough, gritty style of play over from Western Canada’s leagues and it certainly left an impression on UQTR. It was as if every time he hit the ice, an opposing player hit the boards. In one post whistle scrum, Zorn could be found holding back two angry opposing forwards, one in each hand.
Élément praised the rookie’s heavy hitting, shot blocking style of play. The team’s captain certainly agreed.
“I love him. I definitely see some of myself in him. I think he’s a guy that’s definitely gonna be an impactful player this year,” said Hudon, another physical presence during the preseason game.
“He’s a smart player, smart centre. He plays both ways, which is what you want from your number one centre. He was really good.” —_Marc-André Élément_
Hudon may not have spent much ice time with Zorn but he certainly played much of the game with his new rookie centre Hugo Roy.
Roy finished the game with two goals and an assist along with some hits and a strong defensive game. He was one of the most noticeable players on the ice.
“He’s a smart player, smart centre. He plays both ways, which is what you want from your number one centre. He was really good,” said Élément.
The rookie centre frustrated opponents in their zone as well as his own. He also looked dangerous on offense and meshed well with two of the team’s top snipers in Hudon and Philippe Sanche.
“We had a tremendous game. At the beginning it was normal for us to feel a bit rusty. As the game went on we started to feel each other, we supported each other really well,” said Hudon of the quick chemistry his line has found. “We told each other at the end of the game ‘damn this was a good one. I hope this continues.’”
Several of the team’s other new players had flashes of strong play. Colin Grannary and Jake Fletcher acquitted themselves well, with Grannary coming an inch away from a goal on two occasions. William Leclerc had a few nice plays.
Charlie Roy had several strong rushes and impressed with his strong skating throughout the game. He may make the decision on a regular group of defensemen difficult for the coaches. At the moment the team has nine on the roster with six regular spots open, three of which are already spoken for thanks to Neill, Bradley Lalonde and Alexandre Gosselin.
The team looks to keep their preseason energy going with their second preseason game against UQTR Sept. 22 in Trois-Rivières.
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