Photo: Marta Kierkus.
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Head coach Patrick Grandmaître pieces together team in preparation for fall debut

After a turbulent two years without a Gee-Gees men’s hockey team, new head coach and program manager Patrick Grandmaître is gearing up to put a new team on the ice this fall.

A key for the team going forward is forging a new identity that leaves the past behind, and begins rebuilding a competitive and successful squad.

Since Grandmaître’s hiring, the Gees have started their rebuild and, despite the expectation of a new team struggling in their first year back, things are looking pretty good for the Garnet and Grey so far.

“I’m naturally conservative, so I’m expecting it to be very hard,” said Grandmaître about exceeding expectations. “Even though we are starting to get some good players, it’s going to be very hard to adjust… I’m more focused on rebuilding the way we want to play and act, and if the winning happens, then it will happen, but I’m not focused on that right now.”

In January, the team announced their first recruit for 2016 season, defenceman Matt Dunlop of the Markham Royals.

Dunlop had his best career year with the Royals this season, scoring six goals and picking up an impressive 32 assists in his 52 games.

Shortly after announcing the addition of Dunlop, the Gees followed up with the recruit of what could be one of the team’s stars going forward.

Forward Brendan Jacome of the Georgetown Raiders committed to the U of O after an astonishing season.

Jacome has lit the Ontario Junior Hockey League on fire with 44 goals and 38 assists between the regular season and playoffs up to this point. These astounding totals have all come along with him only spending six total minutes in the penalty box all season.

With a pickup of Jacome’s calibre, the Gee-Gees have given themselves a proven scorer to lead their first line.

“Every guy has a different reason why he’s coming here,” said Grandmaître.

“We’re an interesting option for some guys, it could be for the City of Ottawa, it could be for our university, it could be for the opportunity to play whereas if they go to an established team they may have to fight for ice time.”

In late February and early March, the Gees made more than significant additions to their on-ice roster, as well as their roster behind the bench.

Of the seven new recruits announced in March, the headliner is forward Antoine Pouliot coming to the U of O from the Sainte-Agathe Montagnards.

Pouliot scored 54 goals in 52 games this season, showing that in combination with Jacomb, the Gee-Gees could be a high scoring bunch.

On the coaching side, the Gees added a youthful and excited team that all hold the numerous years of hockey experience necessary to advance the upstart squad.

Grandmaître is enthusiastic about the future with both the players and coaches he has brought aboard.

“You can’t go to any other university in Canada right now and say 20 years down the road that ‘I helped rebuild that team’, we’re the only option here. You’re creating something by coming here.”

Putting away all of the difficulties of the past two years and focusing on a new start is breathing life into the campus’ athletics community. For Grandmaître, the end of the summer can’t come fast enough as the return of Gee-Gees men’s hockey looms on the horizon.

“I think it’s a reflection of life, you have to seize your opportunity at some point, and some people are really seeing this as an opportunity.”