Men’s hockey team will look to build on a great inaugural season

The University of Ottawa men’s hockey team is heading into its second year since the re-establishment of their hockey program. The Gee-Gees finished last season with a 15–8–5 record—going 7–3–0 to end their regular season—before falling to Queen’s University in a three-game playoff thriller.

Coach Patrick Grandmaitre’s squad definitely turned some heads in their first season, and expectations are much higher this year with a solid recruiting class coming in.

The Garnet and Grey’s biggest recruit is Eric Locke, a transfer from St. Francis Xavier University. Locke, a forward, is bringing his talents on the ice and in the classroom, as he will be pursuing a medical degree. In a testament to how highly the Gee-Gees think of him, the skilled forward will wear the “C” as he did for StFX. The two-time Atlantic University Sport (AUS) champion and AUS MVP is a former Buffalo Sabres draft pick.

Second-year defenseman Mike Poirier offered his thoughts on what a player like Locke brings to the team.

“We know that (Locke) has a good background. He has played well in the AUS previously, and having a guy like that is definitely huge on the ice and in the locker-room”.

The Gees will also be adding junior talent with Pat White, Samuel Thibault, Jonathan Bourcier, and Médric Mercier. Adding Canadian Hockey League-caliber players should provide a major boost to the Gee-Gees program as they continue to build.

The Gee-Gees will be moving into a tougher division that will see them playing against Concordia, McGill, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, and Carleton. “Those teams are tough programs to play against,” said Poirier. “We’ll take it game by game, try to stay consistent, and play 60 minutes.”

During training camp and the early pre-season the Gee-Gees have been working on their systems and special teams. Poirier said an emphasis on sticking to their system should keep the Gees competitive throughout the season. “We’re (a) systematically sound team. In all three zones we’re well structured. Coach (Grandmaitre) wants us to play a certain way, and as long as we listen to the game plan that he draws up for us we should be in most games.”  

With so many freshmen gaining crucial experience last year, the Gees will look to make a big splash in their division playing against veteran, successful programs such as McGill and UQTR.

In pre-season play the Gees have gone undefeated entering this past weekend, defeating two Ontario University Athletics rivals, the Nipissing Lakers and the Laurentian Voyageurs. On Friday the Gees took on the Belleville Senators. It was first ever game for the newly-moved Sens farm team.

The Gees’ regular-season home opener is on Sunday Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Minto Sports Complex. Tickets can be purchased from the Gee-Gees’ website.