Losing veterans like Luke Green and Thomas Gregoire has left gaping holes on the Sherbrooke blue line. The team will once again be facing major challenges. A total of 12 new players, including nine rookies have all earned the trust of management and are all excited and optimistic with a new season approaching.
Since joining the League in 2012, the Sherbrooke Phoenix has yet to finish in the top half of the overall standings. Will the team finally manage that feat in 2018-19?
“In starting our youth movement just over two years ago, we also wanted to alter the identity of our team. Our goal was to create a culture where hard work and discipline would be a part of our players’ daily reality. This is what we have established. A few good veterans led the way and now it is up to players like Tardif, Poulin and Crete-Belzile to take the reins. Last season was an important step for us. He took a step in the right direction by reaching the second round of the playoffs. Now it’s all about, competing even harder to earn home ice in the opening round of the playoffs. We are aiming to finish in the upper half of the standings. I’m looking forward to see how we respond and perform,” explained Sherbrooke GM Jocelyn Thibault.
You drafted some very good young players in Samuel Poulin, Bailey Peach and Jaxon Bellamy. All now in their second season, do you think they have what it takes to enjoy more success than last year?
“Our team is different now. This year we have a team that is closer in age. We only have one 16-year-old player and it’s our top pick, Patrick Guay. We only have two 20-year-old players, including a goalie. The rest of our players are 17-to-19 year olds who will continue their development and will make up our nucleus for the next few years. We certainly don’t want to take any shortcuts. As many as 20 of our players could be back with us next season. Success is a process. I believe that players like Joncas, Crete-Belzile, Poulin and Peach have progressed. Now with the addition of a player like Alex-Olivier Voyer and our two Europeans, we are building this team according to our vision,” continued the former NHL goalie and one of those who helped bring junior hockey back to the Sherbrooke region.
With several new faces now in your dressing room, who will this new identity differ from what we’ve seen in previous years?
“Last year, we had a team made up of extremes. Our top two lines were made up of older veterans and our depth was comprised with almost exclusively rookies. We had two 19-year-old veterans on the blue line and players like Mathieu Olivier who led by example. He respected his teammates and his opponents and I think he was able to pass those good values on to our young players. And those players will now do the same to guide our rookies. It’s all a type of continuous cycle.”