All Samuel Savoie ever wanted to do was play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
That lifelong goal and dream are now close to becoming reality.
“When I was younger, people would always ask me what my dream as a hockey player was. Every kid wants to say NHL, but my realistic answer was always the QMJHL,” explained Savoie.
“My dad would always take me to see the Wildcats play, and I always told him that I wanted to play in the league,” added the Moncton, New Brunswick product.
There are quite probably eighteen teams that would like to see Samuel Savoie play for them next season. And while Savoie’s compete level and will to win are sometimes misunderstood as being cockiness or arrogance, his talent remains undeniable.
Arguably one of the top forwards in this year’s draft class, Savoie brings incredible skill and speed to the game every time he steps on the ice.
What he’s learned during the trips with his father to the old Moncton Coliseum to watch the Cats play has definitely served him well, because his style of game perfectly suits the next level.
So, what would it mean for the 15-year-old to hear his name called at the Q Draft next June?
“My dad would always tell me to keep working hard, and that everything is possible,” he recalls. “Now that I am in my draft year, it would mean a lot to see that hard work pay off and get drafted!”
Hockey dreams have a way of connecting us all. But it’s especially true for young prospects and the role models that they often look up to.
In Savoie’s case, his inspiration came from a player that was only two years his senior.
“When I was young, I always looked up to Jeremie Jacob,” he confessed. “I really admired Jeremie’s relentlessness. He may be the best skater I have ever skated with,” Savoie added of the current Acadie-Bathurst Titan winger.
“I’ve followed in Jeremie’s footsteps my entire career. Now he’s playing in the QMJHL, and I’m hoping I can play in that league in the years to come as well.”
Ask anyone who’s seen him play and they’ll admit that Savoie plays with an edge. While he’s crossed the line at times, the speedy winger is very effective when he truly focuses on playing his gritty style of game.
Savoie has exceptional outside speed and definitely isn’t scared to mix it up physically. The highly skilled forward is extremely aggressive on the forecheck and has the ability to get to the net with relative ease.
Savoie is good in traffic, possesses solid puck skills and vision, has an above average shot and has the ability to score from anywhere on the ice. While he can play both forward positions because of his speed, odds are that he’ll be fulfilling a top six winger role at the next level.
“I think that over the course of the season I really improved my skating and my shot. I worked hard on those because they were probably the two most important aspects for me to get to the next level,” admitted the feisty forward.
The Moncton Flyers prospect has also worked hard this season in order to add a full 200-foot style of play to his game. But he will still need to work on certain aspects of his defensive game to excel next season and beyond.
Savoie has handled the pressure and expectations of his draft year very well. He understands now more than ever how important it is to play to his identity.
“It’s been an unreal season,” Savoie said. “Obviously it’s been nerve wracking with all the people who come to watch our team play. I get a bit nervous before going to big tournaments like the Monctonian or the Ice Jam, but my coaches and Lesley Smyth (Sports Psychologist and founder of Mindfit) helped me control my emotions.”
“They always tell me to play my game and not to think about scouts”, admits the youngster. “They remind me that if you work hard, the success is going to come.”
While remaining focused and humble are one thing, Savoie has also learned that he needs to keep his cool when he’s on the ice.
“At the next level, players are so good that I can’t give them power plays with my undisciplined penalties”, he admits. “The game is so fast now, so in order to slow down the fastest players or to take the puck away from them, I’ll have to be physical. But playing hard and intense hockey is my style. Yes, I play with a lot of emotions, but I have to control myself mentally to not take penalties.”
But playing with an edge has not come to the detriment of offensive stats for the Flyers forward. In 37 regular season games, Savoie scored 18 times and added 38 assists.
With such stats, where does Savoie see himself fitting in at the next level?
“I see myself as a two-way forward who can be on the power play but who can also kill penalties”, he states. “If I keep progressing the way I am, I could be a good role player in the upcoming years.”
Samuel Savoie is the type of player who is extremely hard to play against when he’s in his zone, so he will undoubtedly be a very sought-after commodity in June. Many QMJHL scouts love his skill set, skating ability but, more importantly, his intensity.
Savoie’s father was right. When you work hard, anything is possible.