After setting for silver in 2018 and 2019, the Quebec Region champions hope the third time will be the charm in Okotoks
If there is one team that seems to be a regular at the TELUS Cup, it’s the Cantonniers de Magog.
The Cantonniers are back for a third-consecutive appearance at Canada’s National Men’s U18 Club Championship after defending their Ligue de développement du hockey M18 AAA du Québec (LDHM18AAAQ) once again.
And this time, Magog wants to get the one win that has eluded them – it fell 5-1 to the Notre Dame Hounds (one of its 2022 opponents) in the championship game in 2018, and dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Toronto Young Nationals in double overtime in the 2019 final.
With the 2020 playoff canceled and the 2020-21 season wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cantonniers have a new-look lineup and a new face behind the bench: former NHL defenseman Stéphane Robidas, who played more than 900 NHL games across a 14-year career with Montreal, Dallas, Chicago, Anaheim and Toronto.
Robidas took over from another former NHLer, Félix Potvin, who led Magog to its previous two trips to the TELUS Cup.
“Our team has progressed since Day 1,” Renaud Légaré, president of the Cantonniers, says of the 2021-22 campaign. “The players understood that they were at a professional level. From then on, they were intense all year long.”
The season was not without challenges. In mid-December, the LDHM18AAAQ suspended its activities due to the increase in cases of COVID-19 linked to the Omicron variant. It wasn’t until two months later that games resumed.
“There were ups and downs because of the pandemic, the fear that the season would be canceled like the year before,” says Légaré. “As soon as activities resumed, we saw that the players were determined to go all the way and put in the effort necessary to win the [league title].”
After finishing with a 30-9-0 record, good for second in the LDHM18AAAQ, the Cantonniers defeated Amos, Gatineau and Laval-Montreal – losing just two of 11 games – to advance to the league final against the formidable Chevaliers de Lévis, champions of the regular season.
After losing Game 1, Magog managed to win the next four games, capped off by an overtime winner from Connor Macey that made it the first team to win three-straight Quebec titles since Ste-Foy from 1978-80.
Next stop: Okotoks.
“We’re going to leave a day early to calm the troops and the nerves of playing in a tournament for a group of 15-and-16-year-olds in Calgary,” Légaré says. “We think that leaving a day early will help them.”
Magog has not won Canada’s National Men’s U18 Club Championship since 2000, and the last Quebec team to claim a national was Ste-Foy a year after that.
“We are going to the tournament with the goal of bringing back the [TELUS
Cup],” concludes Légaré. “It would be a nice complement to all the wins we’ve accumulated over the past few years.”
Magog opens its TELUS Cup schedule against the Pacific Region champions, the Vancouver NE Chiefs, on May 16.
HOW THEY GOT TO OKOTOKS
Quebec AAA M18 Hockey Development League
Preliminary round: defeated Forestiers d’Amos 3-0 (8-1, 7-1, 7-1)
Quarterfinal: defeated Gatineau’s Dauntless 3-1 (3-5, 5-2, 6-4, 2-1)
Semifinal: defeated Rousseau Royal de Laval-Montreal 3-1 (4-3, 5-1, 2-3, 7-3)
Final: defeated Chevaliers de Lévis 4-1 (2-4, 7-2, 3-2, 2-0, 4-3 OT)
Regular season record: 30-9-0 (2nd in LDHM18AAAQ)
Goals for: 186 (2nd in LDHM18AAAQ)
Goals against: 91 (T-1st in LDHM18AAAQ)
Longest winning streak: 7 (Dec. 10-March 4)
Top 3 scorers:
– Raoul Boilard – 17G 27A 44P (10th in LDHM18AAAQ)
– Connor Macey – 19G 22A 41P (14th in LDHM18AAAQ)
– Alix Durocher – 19G 20A 39P (17th in LDHM18AAAQ)
Goals for: 74
Goals against: 36
Top 3 scorers:
– Eli Baillargeon – 14G 13A 27P
– Jules Boilard – 8G 18A 26P
– Lewis Gendron – 9G 12A 21P
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2019 | Cantonniers of Magog | gold medal | 5-0-0 | 19GF4GA
2018 | Cantonniers of Magog | gold medal | 2-2-1 | 16GF 16GA
2000 | Cantonniers of Magog | gold medal | 4-1-0 | 36GF 14GA
1995 | Cantonniers of Magog | fifth-place | 2-3-0 | 7GF 12GA
leads the way as captain… best offensive player of the playoffs… good shot
best defensive player of the playoffs … driven by competition … very agile goaltender
big body on the blue line … makes a good first pass … high hockey IQ
QMJHL DRAFTED PLAYERS
Jérémie Dumas-Larouche – Blainville-Boisbriand 2021 (2nd round, 33rd overall)
Shawn Pearson – Rimouski 2021 (2nd round, 39th overall)
Louis-Félix Charrois – Rouyn-Noranda 2021 (3rd round, 44th overall)
Eloi Bourdeau – Sherbrooke 2021 (3rd round, 56th overall)
Jules Boilard – Rimouski 2021 (4th round, 60th overall)
Lyam Jacques – Rimouski 2021 (5th round, 79th overall)
Eli Baillargeon – Moncton 2021 (5th round, 80th overall)
Charles Poirier – Shawinigan 2020 (8th round, 131st overall)