High expectations for St. Pat’s hockey program

fighting irish.jpg
Photo: courtesy of St. Patrick’s Fighting Irish hockey team

Gabriel Boulay, of St. Patrick’s Fighting Irish, takes a shot on goal, earlier this season, against l’Ancienne-Lorette. Boulay is one of three Irish players who will play in the LHPS all-star game in Beauceville on Dec. 16.

The St. Patrick’s High School hockey program has reached the halfway point of its first season in the Ligue de Hockey Préparatoire Scolaire (LHPS).

The LHPS is the Quebec version of the American prep schools’ hockey leagues, in which players such as Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon played before being drafted and going on to successful NHL careers.

Playing in the Major Under 17 class, the Fighting Irish head into the holidays with a record of seven wins, six losses and two losses in shootouts.

For Maxime Côté, head coach and math teacher at St. Pat’s, the team is playing at the level that was expected. “For a team playing in its first year, in this caliber, I am very satisfied with our performance so far,” said Côté. “We lost a few games that we could’ve won but our lack of hockey experience at this level was reflected in some games.”

Playing in a league where the emphasis is on studies and hockey, Côté was very pleased to see that the level of success at school reached 96 per cent. “I’m a math teacher and it’s easy to follow the students throughout the year in their studies,” explained Côté.

The league is very competitive, and Maxime Côté is confident St. Pat’s can reach the top level this year. “Our objective is to finish in the top four. We can easily be there at the end of the year.”

St. Patrick’s High play their home games at the PEPS on the campus of Université Laval, and they often have to play two games per day.

“The LHPS wants to develop players so they can access the Quebec Major Junior League, the NCAA (university level in the U.S.), and the Quebec AAA Junior League. In order to have the different scouts attend the games, the LHPS has created the hockey showcases, in which the teams sometimes have to play two games in one day,” said Côté.

The program is well established now. The team has three practices on ice per week, one off-ice training session and one video session.

The team will head to Lake Placid, New York, from Dec. 8 to 10, to play in a prep school tournament with teams from the United States and Ontario. Another tournament is scheduled for later in Ontario.

Three Fighting Irish will take part in the LHPS All-Star Game, on Dec. 16 in Beauceville. Forwards Tyler Knox and Alexandre Boulay, along with defenceman Érik Gault will represent the Green and White.

“Tyler, along with the Boulay twins (Alexandre and Gabriel), have been our best forwards this year. On defence, as well as Gault, Alexis Poitras is having a great year on the blue line,” commented the head coach of St. Patrick’s.

This past weekend, the Irish lost its two games in the showcase, played in St.-Cyrille-de-Wendover. On Dec. 2, St. Pat’s lost 2-1 against the Collège St-Bernard Sénateurs from Drummondville. The next day, the Irish lost a heartbreaker, 4-3 in a shootout, against the École Secondaire Mont-Bleu from Gatineau.