By Alexander Cole
With the head coaching job up for grabs, Concordia’s men’s hockey program had a big decision to make during the off-season. After a summer of deliberation, the Stingers chose last year’s interim head coach Marc-André Élement as the man to take over as full-time coach.
Élement, who now has a year with the Stingers under his belt, is ready to apply his skills and experiences from last season to this season.
“Every day as a coach, you learn. I learned a lot last season,” Élement said. “We had a good team last year, and I’m expecting this year to have a better season. When you have good people around you, it makes it a lot easier.”
For Élement, having good people around him means bringing in a strong recruiting class that not only has talented players, but good-hearted players as well.
Among the recruiting class from the Stingers this year are Anthony Deluca and Philippe Sanche of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) who are touted to provide the Stingers with much needed goal-scoring this season.
“We have a very good recruiting class this year,” Élement said. “What I’ve learned is that if you want to win a championship, you need to win with good people. All of our recruits are really good people.”
Last year, the Stingers had a young team with 15 first-year players. Although those players are going into this season with an extra year under their belts, Élement still feels like he has a young team.
However, Élement expects his young squad to be able to compete with the strongest teams in the league, while playing to the best of their abilities night-in and night-out.
“I always have high expectations for my team,” Élement said. “I think we will be capable of doing the job and I just want the guys to be playing all-out every single game.”
The Stingers will not be without leadership, as captain Olivier Hinse is returning for his fifth and final year of eligibility in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS). Élement said having Hinse return is great for the young players—they will have someone on the team who acts as a role model on and off the ice.
“We had a good discussion with Olivier and he’s going to be the mentor for all the new guys,” Élement said. “When you have a young team like that, you need a guy to look up to. He leads by example, and they’ll see his work ethic on and off the ice.”
One challenge that Élement will face this year, however, is the goaltending situation. Last season, the team switched between Miguel Sullivan and Robin Billingham on a regular basis, with Antoine Marchand acting as the third goalie.
This season, the Stingers have added QMJHL goaltender Philippe Cadorette, who holds 13 QMJHL records and Marc-Antoine Turcotte, who plays in the QMJHL as well. While Turcotte will only be eligible to play in December, the addition of Turcotte and Cadorette means five goalies will be competing for the starting job.
“We will make a decision on who starts for us after the exhibition games,” Élement said. “We’re still in training camp, so you never know what’s going to happen.”
With exhibition games on the horizon, Élement is also looking for players who will go all out and give all their effort on a consistent basis. Élement added that he is confident in his team, and that team chemistry is at an all-time high.
“The team is working hard. They have a good work ethic. They work their ass off on the ice and they work hard in school,” Élement said. “Those are the three things that are most important to us, so we’re excited.”
The Stingers next exhibition game will be played against the University of Acadia in Nova Scotia on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.