Collège Français de Longueuil is finally playing for Canada’s National
Junior A Championship.
After coming agonizingly close during its decade-long run of success in the
Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Quebec (LHJAAAQ), Longueuil is skipping the
step it has historically stumbled at – the Fred Page Cup.
In six appearances at the East Region tournament since 2011, Collège
Français has lost in the regional final (2011, 2018), lost in the
semifinals (2015, 2016, 2017) and missed out on the playoffs altogether
But with regionals cancelled in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns that
affected Junior A leagues across the country, Longueuil’s sixth league
title in the last 10 completed seasons comes with it a path directly to the
2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons.
“It's a great opportunity,” says Longueuil head coach Eric Bouchard. “It's great visibility for our league, for the city of Longueuil. It's great experience for our players, as well. We've worked really hard to get here. We've been building this day since day one of training camp, and we had a really good progression along the way throughout the season. So, we're just excited to be here. It's going to be a great, great experience.”
The key to Collège Français’ success this season? Being really, really good
at both ends of the ice.
To no one’s surprise, Longueuil scored and scored a lot, potting 265 goals
in 41 games. That average of 6.46 goals per game was better than all other
118 Junior A teams in Canada; only three other teams – LHJAAAQ rivals
Saint-Jérôme (6.36) and Beauce-Appalaches (6.05), and the Brooks Bandits
(6.18) – averaged more than six goals a game.
Collège Français balanced its offence; Maxime Gagné won the LHJAAAQ scoring
title with 94 points (40-54—94), but four other players had 50-point
campaigns and another three reached the 30-point plateau.
So the offence was there, as expected.
But somewhat surprisingly, Collège Français was extremely stingy in the
defensive end, allowing a league-low 105 goals – a whopping 55 less than
Saint-Jérôme, which had the second-best defensive numbers.
Three goaltenders saw significant action, with Simon Bérubé (7-1, 2.38
GAA), Frederic Duteau-Labonte (12-1, 2.43 GAA) and Mathis Lacroix-Goulet
(15-5, 2.66 GAA) finishing as three of the four LHJAAAQ netminders to post
sub-3.00 goals-against averages.
The 200-foot success helped Longueuil to the top of the LHJAAAQ with only
four regulation-time losses in 41 games, and after a slight stumble in the
first round of the playoffs, when it went down 2-1 to Granby, it rolled off
wins in 11 of its final 13 postseason contests, taking down
Beauce-Appalaches in five games in the league final.
“I think our defensive game is helping us to get more time with the puck,” says Bouchard. “If we play well without the puck, we're to have more puck possession. And I think this is where we're building our offensive zone time.”
Now Collège Français gets its chance on the big stage, looking to become
the first Quebec-based team to ever win a national title and the first to
even reach the championship game since Châteauguay in 1993.
Longueuil opens its
Centennial Cup schedule
against the Alberta Junior Hockey League champions, the Brooks Bandits, on
HOW THEY GOT TO ESTEVAN
Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec
Quarterfinal: defeated Granby 4-2 (2-3, 4-2, 1-5, 2-1 OT, 6-2, 2-1)
Semifinal: defeated Terrebonne 4-1 (5-3, 1-5, 4-2, 8-4, 8-3)
LHJAAAQ championship: defeated Beauce-Appalaches 4-1 (6-2, 0-3, 3-0, 6-4,
Record (W-L-OTL): 34-4-3 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Goals for: 265 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Goals against: 105 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Power play: 55 for 192 (28.7% – 4th in LHJAAAQ)
Penalty killing: 121 of 142 (85.2% – 1st in LHJAAAQ)
Longest winning streak: 18 (Oct. 29-March 3)
Top 3 scorers:
• Maxime Gagné – 40G 54A 94P (1st in LHJAAAQ)
• Frédérick Latendresse – 30G 34A 64P (18th in LHJAAAQ)
• Owen Stammer – 30G 32A 62P (20th in LHJAAAQ)
Goals for: 64
Goals against: 44
Power play: 17 for 59 (28.8%)
Penalty killing: 38 of 49 (77.6%)
Top 3 scorers:
• Maxime Gagné – 12G 19A 31P
• Tommy Bouchard – 12G 8A 20P
• Chris Roy – 10G 7A 17P
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
1990 – Sieurs de Longueuil | fourth place | 1-4 | 16GF 34GA
CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS
Oct. 4 – 17th
Oct. 11 – not ranked\
Oct. 18 – not ranked
Oct. 25 – not ranked
Nov. 1 – Honourable Mention
Nov. 8 – 12th
Nov. 15 – 10th
Nov. 22 – 7th
Nov. 29 – 9th
Dec. 6 – 5th
Dec. 13 – 3rd
Dec. 20 – 5th
Feb. 7 – 5th
Feb. 14 – 5th
Feb. 21 – 2nd
Feb. 28 – 2nd
March 7 – 2nd
March 14 – 2nd
March 21 – 2nd