BEAUPRE, QUE. – Quebec’s latest senior hockey group sprang to life right here at 9:01 p.m. Friday when the puck dropped to start out the first-ever common season recreation of the Montagnards de Beaupre.
The opening faceoff towards the Wendake Black Jack – a group captained by former NHL enforcer Donald Brashear, nonetheless huge and ornery at age 51 – additionally marked the return of high-caliber hockey to the Cote-de-Beaupre, a historic rural area simply east of Quebec Metropolis.
“It was superb, a dream come true,” mentioned Mathieu Penney, a 37-year-old defenseman and assistant captain with the Montagnards (or Mountaineers).
He and his brother Alex, 30, are amongst a half-dozen gamers on the Montagnards’ 20-man roster who had been born and raised within the space and performed youth hockey on this outdated cinder-block constructing, the Cote-de-Beaupre Area.
The 2 brothers are additionally the sons of former NHL goalie Steve Penney, a Calder Trophy finalist who performed 91 video games with the Montreal Canadiens and the unique Winnipeg Jets over 5 seasons within the Nineteen Eighties. He received a Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1986.
Mathieu Penney was a key instigator within the creation of the brand new Montagnards group.
“We had a senior group right here years in the past, and it was loads of enjoyable,” he mentioned. “We needed to carry again that vibe.”
In March, he and Jonathan Maltais, supervisor of the world in Beaupre, a half-hour drive from Outdated Quebec, met with Dave Girard, president of the four-team, five-year-old Ligue de Hockey Senior du Lac au Fleuve.
Girard shortly endorsed the Montagnards venture and added a fifth group to the league for its sixth 12 months.
“Beaupre is a pure rival for Wendake,” mentioned Girard, who owns one of many three league groups within the Lac St-Jean area, north of Quebec’s provincial capital.
The Black Jack’s residence rink is on the Wendake Huron reserve simply north of Quebec Metropolis.
“Having two groups strengthens our presence within the area,” mentioned Girard. “Our league is all about ardour for hockey.”
The LHSLF is one in all three Senior AA leagues in Quebec.
The province additionally has one Senior AAA and one semi-pro league, the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey.
Each Brashear and the Montagnards’ captain Alexandre Tremblay are enjoying within the LHSLF and LNAH this season. Tremblay, 44, grew up in Beaupre and performed 20 years on the highest ranges of junior, Canadian college and European hockey – profitable championships in any respect three ranges.
Mathieu Penney, an affable window and door salesman who performed junior and senior hockey and nonetheless performs in a Sunday morning storage league together with his dad and brother, led the hassle to lift the $100,000 wanted to get the brand new Montagnards up and operating.
A lot of that cash got here from the sale of a dozen company suites to native entrepreneurs. The city of Beaupre additionally put up $15,000 and is the brand new group’s essential sponsor.
For his half, Maltais put collectively the executive construction and training workers that may lead the group throughout its inaugural 16-game season.
The house opener attracted a near-capacity crowd of some 800 folks, together with many family and friends members of Montagnards’ gamers – Steve Penney amongst them.
Mathieu Penney, who was appearing group captain Friday evening (Tremblay is serving a two-game suspension), bought the loudest cheers when the brand new group’s gamers had been launched.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound defenseman additionally took the ceremonial faceoff towards Brashear, with Maltais dropping the puck.
But it surely was the hulking, grey-bearded Brashear that the majority followers got here to see.
From the get-go, he displayed the identical aggressive nature that earned him 2,634 penalty minutes in 1,025 video games with 5 NHL groups between 1993 and 2010.
Brashear led the NHL in penalty minutes in six of these seasons and stays the Fifteenth-most penalized participant in league historical past.
He’s now one in all just a few NHL veterans, together with Jaromir Jagr, who remains to be enjoying aggressive contact hockey of their 50s.
Taking part in proper wing on each the Black Jack’s prime line and the power-play unit, Brashear was a menacing presence all through Friday’s recreation.
He skated onerous in all three intervals, ending checks, crowding the entrance of the online and eagerly collaborating in after-whistle scrums, together with one with Alex Penney.
Brashear additionally exchanged onerous phrases and menacing appears to be like with Mathieu Penney, who he knocked down and punched in a pre-season recreation between the 2 groups every week earlier, a 6-3 win by the Montagnards.
“Donald is in nice form, and he stands up for his teammates,” mentioned Black Jack coach Stephane Rioux. “The fellows love him.”
After Friday’s recreation – a principally disjointed, fight-free affair that ended simply earlier than midnight in a 2-0 Black Jack win – Brashear declined an invite to speak about his ongoing hockey profession.
“I’m having enjoyable – let’s go away it at that,” he mentioned.
Although disillusioned with the ultimate rating, Mathieu Penney mentioned the sport was an enormous win for native gamers and hockey followers.
“We didn’t play our greatest, and we had been lacking some key gamers,” he mentioned. “However we couldn’t be happier with the turnout and the ambiance. It was an actual occurring.”
- New Quebec Senior Hockey Staff Reveals Grassroots Ardour for Sport in Province
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