A player’s first season in junior hockey encompasses a combination of elements: Excitement, joy, nerves, challenges and most importantly growth. It will always be a big leap for players who are playing their first season in major junior. This special QMJHL roundtable includes four rookies talking about their experiences in their first regular season in QNation. It features Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles), Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Halifax Mooseheads), Eric Eschweiler (Gatineau Olympiques) and Nick Gosse (Rimouski, Océanic).
What’s it like being a rookie in QMJHL?
Batherson: “It’s a big jump from former leagues I have played in that’s for sure. In the Q you have to play the system while in other leagues you could get away with it sometimes, but most importantly it’s a lot of fun and I am enjoying it.”
Groulx: “It’s really nice being surrounded by players who are drafted NHL or that have a lot of experience in the QMJHL. There is an opportunity where I can learn from them a lot, not only in my team but around the league.”
Eschweiler: “Being a rookie in the QMJHL is an amazing experience for me. I am introduced to my first year of Major Junior hockey by players that already have experience in the league. It is truly a dream come true to be able to play here.”
Gosse: “It’s definitely a big adjustment from major midget. The speed and the size of all the other players is a big change. It’s very different but it’s a good and exciting experience overall. You get to play against amazing players who have or will be drafted in the NHL so that is also a very cool aspect as well.”
In your first year in the league, What is on your mind? What do you want to accomplish?
Batherson: “It’s a big jump from former leagues i have played in for sure, in the q you have to play the system while in other leagues you could get away with it sometimes, but most importantly it’s a lot of fun and i am enjoying it.”
Groulx: “This year my goal is not based on making point or being a flashy player, it’s based on playing the right way defensively and offensively with a lot of pace and hard work in my identity constantly.”
Eschweiler: “Even though it is my first year in the league, I really want to help the team in any way that I can. An accomplishment I want to have is for our team to win the league, that certainly is on my mind. ”
Gosse: “I am always trying to get better and show my coaches what I can do in my first year. You definitely need to try to get noticed.”
How important is it to you to be part of QNation this year?
Batherson: 3. “Obviously it’s an honour to play in the Q. Growing up watching the Q when I was younger made me want to play in it that much more and now having the chance to play in the league is awesome.”
Groulx: “I really wanted to be part of QNation this year because now I can compete against older and better players than me. That can just make me a way better hockey player down the road.”
Eschweiler: “To be able to play for the Gatineau Olympiques and in the QMJHL is such an amazing feeling. I am very thankful to all those who have helped me get to where I am today. This is a dream come true to play here, and I am very excited to have this opportunity.”
Gosse: “It’s a pretty big honour. You think of how many players who want to play in the QMJHL growing up and how many players do, you really need to feel proud and lucky to be here!”