By Jesse Michael for the Canadian Hockey League
Time is running out for Blainville-Boisbriand Armada defenseman, Xavier Ouellet.
For the third time in his junior hockey career, Ouellet will be participating in the SUBWAY Super Series, with a major personal goal on his mind; to represent Team Canada at the World Junior Championship in December.
“I’ve been a part of it the last three years, and it’s always a big challenge to play against Russia,” Ouellet said in an interview last week. “I have many personal goals, but the first is to play at the World Juniors on Team Canada.”
Ouellet’s development as a hockey player took a major leap forward last season with the Armada, setting career highs in goals (21) and assists (39).
His strong play in both the regular season and playoffs provided the team with enough evidence that Ouellet would make a great leader naming him Captain in the off-season.
That leadership role will carry over to this year’s SUBWAY Super Series. Having been a part of the event since 2010, Ouellet will be one of the players leaned on to teach the newcomers about the importance of the series.
“We don’t have too much time to prepare for those games so it’s going to be important to think as a team as fast as possible,” he said. “We will have to try and get into the system quickly that the coaches want to bring in.”
The Detroit Red Wings second round pick also believes that there is a sound strategy that has been used in the past to overcome the strong Russian teams he’s seen the last two years.
“They’re a big team, have a lot of skill, and a lot of team speed,” he said. “We need to out work them; that’s the makeup of the CHL and Hockey Canada. We need to go out there, out work them and show them how we play hockey in Quebec.”
As exciting as the event is, the reaction of the fans to the series in the hometown centers is something Ouellet looks forward to.
He has already seen that the Armada fans are ready for the game, and will be supportive of not only him, but his teammates and the entire QMJHL lineup.
“I think everybody knows it, and everybody is asking me about it,” he said. “The fans are really excited for the Team. As for me, playing [with the Armada] the last two years, I have a lot of fans here, and my family will be there to support me. I can’t wait to play in the game.”
But as mentioned, Ouellet’s ultimate goal is to represent Team Canada at the World Juniors in Ufa, Russia come December, something that according to Hockey Canada head scout, Kevin Prendergast, will be a challenge given the depth our country has on defense.
“All the defenseman playing in the six games all have a lot of skill, and a mix of everything,” Prendergast said in a conference call last week. “We need guys who can carry the puck out of trouble, move the puck, and be strong defensively in their own end...We need smart hockey players who can skate and think the game.”
Ouellet and the other representatives of Team QMJHL will be looking to make an impression when Game 1 kicks off the 2012 SUBWAY Super Series, Monday, November 5, from the Centre d'Excellence Sports Rousseau in Blainville-Boisbriand.
The game can be seen live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, beginning at 7pm EST.