A few months ago, after completing his junior internship with the Quebec Remparts, Matthew Boucher had to make a heartbreaking choice between continuing his career in professional hockey or taking the road to university hockey. On Sunday night, however, he did not regret having chosen the second option after raising the David Johnston University Cup in University of New Brunswick’s Varsity Red uniform.
The winger, son of former Remparts coach Philippe Boucher, still remembers how much he hesitated about the next move in his career. “I remember that I was four days in a hotel room in Colorado turning around and turning this question in my head,” says former Red Devils number 91 about this period following the camp. training of the Colorado Avalanche, where he had been invited.
The 21-year-old finally decided to enroll in the Bachelor of Business Administration program at the University of New Brunswick, an institution renowned for the excellence of his national hockey team. “Of course it was part of my plans to know that by going there, I would have a chance to win. However, just because it’s one of the best programs in the country does not make it easy. People are not all aware of how much effort and work has gone into that, “says Boucher.
After four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), one in Drummondville and three in Quebec City, Boucher also had to adapt to a new caliber of play.
“A caliber much stronger than many imagine. It’s university level, so you can play guys like 25, 26 or 27 years old. I had to go through a period of adaptation at the beginning of the season, “he continues. Boucher quickly found his bearings since he finished the regular calendar with 13 goals and 16 assists in 28 games.
“We are fortunate here to have an experienced coach, Gardiner MacDougall, who is an incredible motivator and has won seven Canadian championships in 19 seasons. All the players knew what he expected from them and he gave me an offensive role when I left. I also played at a disadvantage and on the power play. ”
Matthew Boucher also reviewed some famous faces with the Varsity Red, where seven Quebeckers line up. “Two or three years ago, I was at the Phoenix Coyotes camp and there were only three Quebeckers there: I, Alexandre Goulet and Olivier Leblanc. We knew each other a little, but nothing more. Well, you know, this year, we were all three with the University of New Brunswick team! ”
As for the post-season, however, Matthew had to familiarize himself with a formula he had not known in the past. In university hockey, eight teams qualify for the national championship. A single game determines the outcome of each round, which gives very little room for maneuver to a team that would experience a slump. “In the QMJHL, in a 4 of 7, if you stumble in the first game, you can get up, but there you never have a second chance. It’s simple, you play three games and if you lose one, you go home! “Summarizes Matthew.
After defeating the Carleton Ravens 2-1, the Varsity Red easily placed the X-Men of St. Francis Xavier 9-1, before falling to the defending champions, the Golden Bears of the University of Toronto. Alberta, in the grand finale.
“These are the two programs that most often participated in the Canadian final, but it was a long time that the two teams did not compete for the cup. The Golden Bears were 1-0 early in the first 10 minutes of penalties. This is not ideal, but it gave us momentum since we are incredible in shorthand. At the end of the second, we had already come back and we were leading 3-1 and in the third, we knew what we had to do, “says Matthew about the victory of 4 to 2 which has procured an eighth national title at Varsity Red.
Matthew had a warm supporter in the stands as his father Philippe paid for a trip to Lethbridge, Alberta, to watch his son’s play on the bleachers of the ENMAX Center. “He was there and he helped me prepare myself mentally for all that,” says the one who is already looking forward to the next season.