Gee-Gees

JR Matha
No matter what happens, 'J-R' will enjoy the rest of the season and play for the love of the game. Photo: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Now in remission, Mantha continues to have impact on the success of the men’s hockey team

Being diagnosed with cancer is one of the worst things that can happen to someone. 

It happened to Gee-Gees defenseman Jean-Robin Mantha when he was only 22 years old. 

Now in remission, Mantha continues to have an impact on the success of the Gee-Gees men’s hockey team.

Before the start of the 2018-2019 season, Mantha felt that something was wrong, so he decided to see his doctor to take some tests.

“At that time, the doctor said ‘we don’t know what it is yet so you need to go do a scan.’ And two days after the scan, I received a cancer diagnosis,” said Mantha during an interview.

When the doctor told him the terrible news, it was a big shock for the Gee-Gees number 12, but the warrior in him had one plan: to be back on the ice as soon as possible.

“When I received the diagnosis, the first thing I had on my mind was okay, I’ve got this, how can I fix this? I was just telling the doctor,  okay, what’s the next step to like to feed that?’,” said Mantha.

During Mantha’s treatment, he had a lot of side effects due to chemotherapy. It was also hard for the 25-year-old athlete to be out of the game while all his teammates were still in the action.

“I had a lot of side effects. I was pretty much a zombie. And the worst thing for me was probably the brain fog… Your thinking is a bit weird, and your living in slow mode, always super tired, I couldn’t go see my friends almost all the time. So it was hard to just be out of my normal life for a bit,” said the Gatineau native.

The day of Feb. 6 2020 was one of the greatest days in the young life of the former Saint-Laurent Patriotes captain. Matha made his comeback after two years of inactivity and intense treatments.

“I had the best smile of my life on the ice. It was just great to be part of the team again and then just be with the boys and feeling that feeling I wanted to feel for about three years,” said Mantha with a smile, remembering the moment. 

His girlfriend Magalie Frappier, captain of the Gee-Gees volleyball team, spoke to the courage of Mantha.

“He’s the most positive person and nothing is ever a big deal,” said Frappier. 

“He’s the strongest person I know.”

Cancer isn’t the only challenge that Mantha faced in his career. The Gatineau native never played Midget AAA and he never played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). 

Before joining the U of O, Mantha spent four years with the Patriotes of Cégep Saint-Laurent in the RSEQ College league.

“I was never an elite player. I didn’t play in the elite level when I was young, I was always the level just under. And I just always worked and loved hockey really much and was able to keep improving every year,” said Mantha.

Mantha joined the Gees due to his perseverance and determination, joining the Gee-Gees as a defenseman.

“I worked my ass through all of those leagues. And now I am a Gee-Gee, and I’m prouder than anybody else,” said the physical education student.

On the ice, the 6-foot, 200-pound defender has no secrets. He likes being tough and using his body. When asked which NHL player he compares himself to, he said Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.

“I’m a smart defenseman with great puck management and also I love to play aggressive and like to hit some people sometimes,” said Mantha.

No matter what happens, ‘J-R’ will enjoy the rest of the season and play for the love of the game.