In seven seasons as the head coach of the Rimouski Océanic, Serge Beausoleil has 270 wins and a .581% winning percentage. The high point came when he guided the club to a President Cup championship in 2015. The veteran bench boss, who’s also the general manager, is understandably excited about the upcoming campaign. This season’s squad boasts key returnees at every position, wise trade acquisitions and eager rookies. Although the Océanic were upset by Moncton in the first round of last year’s playoffs, Rimouski finished in first-place in the East Division and third overall. This year could be even better, especially if the post-season party lasts a little longer. We recently spoke with Beausoleil about the upcoming season.
As rookies, Lafrenière and Ellis had the hockey world buzzing last season. What are the expectations for them in year two?
“In the second year, it depends on how much the guys show up. We have two really good hockey players who are able to eliminate pressure and [distractions caused by] expectations. It’s an important year for both of them. For Colten, it’s his draft year and he has to keep maturing, and going that way. For Lafrenière, the expectations have always been there. They were there in bantam AAA [Mille-Iles Seigneurs] and midget AAA [Saint Eustache Vikings], but he’s able to manage that kind of situation. We think he can be our main asset. He was captain for Team Canada [at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he led his team to a gold medal while tying for the tournament scoring lead, with 11 points]. We were proud of his game and leadership.”
The 2018-19 Océanic roster is still one of the youngest ones in the League. Is there a chance that this lack of experience will be felt at the end of the season?
“We’re still young, but in the meantime, we had three first-round picks [in 2017 – Lafrenière, Christopher Inniss and Mathieu Bizier], and they played a lot of minutes last year. They had big roles. Yeah, they are still young, but I like that kind of youth. I think most Q teams would like that kind of youth. We still have to grow, but we’re going to figure it out as we go. We have a good mix of vets and younger guys, and I think it’s well balanced. We knew last year we had a lot of youth, and that’s the way we chose to go. This year, we think we are a balanced team. There’s a bunch of teams that can be called contenders, and we’re one of them.”
You had the best penalty kill last season despite being the most penalized team in the League. Will indiscipline be an issue once again this year?
“It’s not an issue. Discipline is a big [priority] for us. We can control our sticks and our emotions. The best PK is the one you don’t have to do. Special teams are such an important part of hockey, and we don’t want to be in the box. Controlling your emotions is an important part of a winning team. It comes with maturity.”