(Pictured, from left to right – Joël Bouchard, Drake Batherson, Chris MacDonald, Brian St-Louis, Kevin Elliott, Dominique Ducharme, Maxime Comtois and Éric Raymond.)
The QMJHL was very well represented amongst Team Canada’s supporting staff at the recent 2018 World Junior Championship, held in Buffalo, N.Y.
As a matter of fact, it’s no less than four QMJHL employees that helped, each in their own way, the team that won gold by topping Sweden this past January 5th. For equipment managers Chris MacDonald (Mooseheads | Halifax) and Brian St-Louis (Drakkar | Baie-Comeau), it was a memorable experience.
“It it the first time that I win gold and it’s an indescribable feeling,” says St-Louis, who was participating in his third World Juniors tournament. St-Louis own a very nice career path; he is in his 21st season with Baie-Comeau after having spent 11 years with the Hull Olympiques before. Furthermore, a certain Pat Burns was the first QMJHL coach he ever worked with.
“We do this job without counting the hours we put in, because we’re passionate,” adds St-Louis. “We are happy when the boys have some success because we do all that we can to help them, without forgetting any details.”
MacDonald confirms what his peer is saying. “There’s a strong team spirit that is created is a very short time. The boys all have an objective et we do all that we can to achieve it,” he says. “There’s no ego too big, everyone does his job very humbly.” The man who’s been with the Halifax Mooseheads for 12 years now was taking part in the prestigious Holiday tournament for a fourth time himself.
For MacDonald, his love for his work passes first and foremost through his wife and children. “They are the reason I’m so passionate about my job. With the amount of days passed on the road and in arenas, I wouldn’t be able to do my job without their support,” he states. “When I got the call from Hockey Canada, my family supported me, and so did my team in Halifax.”
Hearing comments from players and team personnel, both men did an impeccable job at the latest tournament. The locker room was nice, clean and no detail was forgotten. St-Louis and MacDonald can hold their heads high.
For Éric Raymond, Canada’s National Junior Team’s Goaltending Consultant who works with MacDonald in Halifax, the whole Buffalo experience was very rewarding.
“In that type of competition, everyone has a specific role and there is no improvisation. That’s what makes [Hockey Canada’s] program so strong. You can’t ask for anything better.”
Raymond also works in the American Hockey League with the Hartford Wolf Pack netminders. He played in the QMJHL himself from 1989-92, mostly with the Laval Titan and then with the Verdun Collège-Français, before eventually moving to professional leagues in America and Europe.
Raymond worked alongside current Team Canada head coach Dominique Ducharme during the latter’s recent tenure with Halifax. Together, they won the 2013 Memorial Cup with the Mooseheads and this year, in 2018, they landed an equally prestigious junior hockey title with the World Juniors gold medal. “It’s very hard to ask for anything better,” said Raymond in a voice choked up by emotions.
As for Kevin Elliott, the Charlottetown Islanders Athletic Therapist, the title won by Canada is first and foremost the result of a team win. “We represent our country, our league, our friends and our families,” said Elliott with pride. “It’s big. Everyone watched this tournament and you feel the hype it creates everywhere in the city. An instant chemistry is created [in our group] and everyone plays his role tremendously.”
Elliott was in his tenth year with Hockey Canada after starting as an intern with the Under-18 program back in 2006. For him, the World Juniors tournament is the ideal time to share insight with others from the same area of expertise.
“We talk about our experiences and about situations we lived and our philosophies. We are constantly learning and end up going home better prepared and with more knowledge,” says Elliott, who also won a gold medal in May of 2015 when he was with the senior team at the World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.
With the endless options Hockey Canada had to pick out its junior team’s supporting staff, it is certainly a good confidence booster and a great showcase for all four Q members who got to take part in such a prestigious tournament as the World Juniors.