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Our 18 | Young Olympiques Take First Strides

 

The last two seasons have seen the Gatineau Olympiques in a situation they have not experienced in decades. Near the bottom of the standings and scrambling to remain in playoff positioning, the organization made the decision to build for the future. At this June’s QMJHL Draft, they went all in on that decision.

Claiming the top selection in the draft for the first time in franchise history, the Olympiques nabbed defenseman Tristan Luneau with the pick. Not to be outdone, it went on to make the second, fourth and eighth choices in the Draft, nabbing winger Antonin Verreault, center Samuel Savoie and defenseman Noah Warren, respectively. These freshmen round out a compliment of young talent that includes center and 2019-20 Rookie All-Star Zachary Dean, defenseman Olivier Boutin and goaltender Emerik Despatie, the latter acquired from the Quebec Remparts during the off-season.

Despite the fact that 16 players born in 2003 or 2004 have been named to its pre-season roster, this Olympiques squad maintains a veteran presence nonetheless. Seven of the top scorers from last year’s edition are set to return this fall, including wingers Kieran Craig and Pier-Olivier Roy, as well as centres Metis Roelens, Mathieu Bizier, Manix Landry and Evan MacKinnon. In fact, the potential talent up the middle in Gatineau is nothing to sneeze at, with no less that six skaters likely to make the final roster who are natural centers.

The back end received a boost with the acquisition of overager Kyle Havlena from the Cape Breton Eagles leading into this summer’s Draft. He’ll join fellow returnee Darick Louis-Jean. Justin Bergeron, a fourth-round selection at the 2019 QMJHL Draft, should step into the lineup following an eight-game cameo appearance last season. In nets, newcomer Despatie will be splitting time with third-year backstop Remi Poirier, who put up a breakout season in 2019-20 with 19 wins and four shutouts.

Also making his way to Gatineau for his maiden season is a new Head Coach and GM, former QMJHL defenseman Louis Robitaille. Fresh off a four-season stint behind the bench in Victoriaville, Robitaille guided the Tigres to President Cup Semi-Final and Quarter-Final berths in back-to-back years.

From behind the bench to all positions on the ice, fans in Gatineau will be introduced to a number of new names this year. If all goes according to plan, they’ll be names that won’t soon be forgotten in the years ahead.

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2019-2020 Olympiques Stats:

 

Team Record 22-37-5-0 (49 points)
Division Ranking 4th West
Conference Ranking 8th Western
Overall Ranking 16th
Goals For 204 (11th)
Goals Against 247 (T-14th)
Power Play 20.6% (9th)
Penalty Kill 73.9% (18th)
Leading Rookie (PTS) Dean (18-28-46)
Leading Scorers (PTS) Craig (22-26-48)
  Roelens (18-30-48)
  *Dean (18-28-46)
  Bizier (19-23-42)
  Landry (15-25-40)
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