In his first experience as head coach at the Gatorade Challenge of Excellence, Steve Thériault of Jonquière Elite Midget AAA will have had the chance to lead a winning team. Team Quebec Bleu was indeed crowned champion of the 7th edition by remaining undefeated from the beginning to the end of the tournament of the best 15 years held at the Center Sports Excellence Rousseau Boisbriand.
The event brought together 120 of the best 15 year old prospects for the next Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) selection session. In addition to the two teams in Quebec (Blue and White), teams from New Brunswick, Newfoundland / Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island were included. Two Jonquière Elite players were also part of the winning cohort: goalkeeper William Blackburn (Jonquière) and defenseman Charles-Émile Duciaume (Mashteuiatsh).
Steve Thériault’s troops won all three round-robin matches to remain perfect even in the grand final where they defeated Quebec Blanc 1-0. The two teams had met in preliminary round and the Blues had the best face against the Whites 6-4.
“We had success from start to finish. We had a group that could generate a lot of offense. Before Sunday’s final, we scored 39 goals in four games, and we had seven. Against Quebec Blanc today, we knew we had to face a high level of competition and it was really a match up with chances to score from both sides. The goalkeepers of both teams have distinguished themselves and they have been elected players of the match, “says Steve Thériault.
The latter was proud to see his goalkeeper, William Blackburn, having managed the shutout of this final. “He lived up to what he did in the Canada Games final (Quebec won gold). He has earned a reputation for getting up in important moments. As for Duciaume, he stood out and he had to win a lot of points individually for the next repechage. He brought a good stability to the defense and he was able to make a good first pass. We also saw his offensive potential when he brought pucks to the net with a good throw. It will be good for his confidence to have lived this tournament, “said the pilot of the Élites de Jonquière.
The latter was also full of knowledge during the tournament alongside various coaches and assistants calibres. He enjoyed working with his assistants of the tournament, Marc-André Ronda (midget coach of the Gauls of Saint-Hyacinthe) and Olivier Picard (assistant coach of the Phoenix de Sherbrooke) among others.
“It makes it possible to make clicks, to take the luggage of everyone. I’ll be a better coach for the next season, “concluded Thériault. He will be able to apply the concepts learned shortly as the Precamp Elite Midget AAA will run from May 8 to 12.