The Gee-Gees men’s hockey team is back on the ice and the relaunch of this historic program under the direction of head coach Patrick Grandmaître is something to be proud of. The year of recruiting resulted in a new group of players in who have brought excitement, pride, and skill.
From the very first meetings in August, the energy among the players and coaching staff has been overwhelmingly positive. The team has been out in the community showing their pride to be part of the relaunch, from team-building scavenger hunts in the streets of Ottawa to moving first-year students into residence as part of move-in day, to cheering on the women’s rugby team, this group has shown its engagement over and over again.
The team hosted a welcome event for alumni on September 7 which featured a special guest in the form of Ottawa Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Grandmaître travelled to Pittsburgh in February to meet with Jacques Martin, one of the people who dedicated his support to the team when the relaunch was announced in 2015. Media coverage in Ottawa of the team’s rebuild has been met openly and warmly by the staff and players.
On the ice, Ottawa performed admirably in the preseason as the players learned how to play together while picking up wins against some of the toughest teams in the OUA. “We played some very good programs and that showed us we’ll be able to push teams. I think we’ll compete day in and day out,” said Grandmaître. “Our work ethic is definitely going to be there, and I think we’ll be surprising a lot of people.”
Indeed, the team is coming off a strong stretch of play in the regular season and the work ethic has paid off in the form of a six-game point streak with four wins in a row. Heading into December, the Gee-Gees hold a playoff position in the OUA East. “We’re really proud of the way we’ve been playing, our work ethic is undeniable,” said Grandmaître. “All of the things we’ve implemented seems to be coming through.”
At the regular season home opener, a new alumni lounge was opened at the uOttawa Minto Sports Complex, with centre ice views, beverage service on select nights, and a new mural dedicated to the history of hockey at the University of Ottawa.
Jean Lépine, Chairman of the Overtime Club, is impressed with the progress.
“This positive return to men's hockey is due in large part to a coaching recruitment process undertaken last year. Coach Grandmaître has responded to the challenge in so many ways and I believe he has recruited players who can withstand the ups and downs of student-athlete life while he, his assistant coaches, the folks at Sports Services, student fans and families and, not least, our hockey alumni work together to put this program on a path to a national championship," says Lépine.
Follow the men’s hockey team through the rest of the season on Twitter @UOttawaMHockey.