The Ciamp Is Here

Memorial Cup Champion Luca Ciampini Continues Hockey Journey As Concordia Stinger

Memorial Cup champion and former QMJHL player Luca Ciampini was formally introduced as a recruit for the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team. Photo Julian McKenzie

There’s a trophy and memorabilia room in Luca Ciampini’s home. Hockey medals, pucks, framed photos and jerseys can be found in almost every corner. There are a few soccer trophies as well—the 21-year-old began playing soccer in his youth around the same time he took up hockey—but those days are behind him now.

“Being a hockey player, that was my dream,” Ciampini said, swarmed by hockey jerseys from his playing days in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, in Halifax and Baie-Comeau, on a couch. “It still is. And that’s where soccer ended.”

He has yet to step foot onto the Ed Meagher Arena ice for a full game, but there is a notable omission from Ciampini’s smorgasbord of hockey memories: a Concordia Stingers hockey jersey.

Ciampini is the first announced recruit for interim men’s hockey bench boss Marc-André Element, who will lead the program through its first season in over 15 years without departed head coach Kevin Figsby.

Element has seen Ciampini play from his junior days and praised him for his goal-scoring ability as well as his championship pedigree. Ciampini won a Memorial Cup Championship as a member of the Halifax Mooseheads in 2013, with fellow teammates and future NHL stars Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.

“You need a guy like that in your program,” said Element. “I know a couple of schools who wanted him, but I’m really happy that he decided to come here to Concordia,”

With his major junior hockey days behind him, and the door leading to the National Hockey League seemingly closed at the moment, Ciampini figured now would be a good time to make his university education a priority.

“I needed a backup plan,” he said. “You need to have a plan B. One injury leads to another, then you can’t play hockey anymore.”

Ciampini will enter Concordia as an independent student, but he wants to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Studies. He says he’s always had an interest in working with children, and he organizes hockey camps for kids in the summer.

“I enjoy working with little kids,” he said. “For me, teaching them would be a fun job.”

Since his youth, Ciampini has drawn attention from hockey scouts as a goal-scoring talent. While attending classes at nearby Loyola High School, Ciampini played Triple-A hockey for the Chateauguay Patriotes and even represented Quebec at a U-17 Canada
Tournament in 2011, where he scored seven goals in six games.

Ciampini would then move to Halifax to play for the Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after being drafted second overall by the club in the 2010 QMJHL draft.

“[Concordia hockey] is going to take a turn for the good.” – Luca Ciampini

In a corner of Ciampini’s trophy room is one relic that would make a Montreal Canadiens fan cringe: a Boston Bruins banner with every year they have won the Stanley Cup. Ciampini is unashamed of his Bruins fandom; his favourite player is former Boston Bruin power forward Joe Thornton, despite living in a city that has been known to have bleu-blanc-rouge coursing through its veins.

However, the Bruins didn’t come calling to Ciampini during, nor after, the 2012 National Hockey League draft. Ciampini had just gone through his first ever year in junior, where he underwhelmed with only 35 points in 68 games.

“Obviously, not being drafted, I was hard on myself,” he said. “I didn’t have a good year, so I was ready for next year.”

Despite this, it was the Bruins’ rival team the Montreal Canadiens that extended him an opportunity to try out for their franchise, giving him a chance to play at the highest level much closer to home. But doubt, in the form of a pending lockout that threatened to wipe
away both NHL games and his tryout, crept into Ciampini’s mind.

The 2012-2013 strike-shortened season ended in time to play half of the regular 82-game season, but because there was no training camp for rookies, Ciampini didn’t get his chance to impress the Canadiens. He hasn’t received any tryout offers since.

“It was a great opportunity,” he said. “I was ready for it. I was really excited for it and getting some experience with the pros.”

Although his NHL dream was thwarted by labour negotiations between owners and players, Ciampini carried on with his QMJHL season, the best of his junior career, scoring 25 goals and 71 points in 65 contests. By season’s end, Ciampini and the Mooseheads captured a Memorial Cup after defeating the best junior teams and opposing top prospects in the country.

Over his five-year junior career, Ciampini accumulated 243 points in 303 career QMJHL games, while facing off against future NHL talents and even future Stingers teammates. He is grateful to his coaches, his educators who taught him in classes between games, and his teammates, recounting numerous stories with them. It’s a time that Ciampini looks fondly upon.

“I definitely miss it, it was the best five years of my life,” he said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity I had, I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Now, Ciampini is preparing for a new step in his journey: university hockey. Despite the uncertainty that looms for the Stingers men’s hockey program, whether it be the status of players past this upcoming season, or even Coach Element’s own job prospects,
Ciampini is confident that he can find success as a member of the Maroon & Gold.

“I know a bunch of guys on the Concordia team and I feel that there’s something there for the next year and on,” he said. “I’m really confident with the group of guys,”

“[Concordia hockey] is going to take a turn for the good.”

If Ciampini is as confident as he says he is about his team, there’s a good chance that he’ll have to make space in his trophy room for more memorabilia, including a Stingers jersey that could easily rest alongside his other uniforms.