Our Alumni | Lemieux continues to prove himself at the university level
Even though he decided to go to university route, Jonathan Lemieux is still as passionate as ever about hockey.
In fact, the goaltender from Saint-Hyacinthe, QC has every intention of trying his luck at the pro level after his studies, or perhaps even before, if he receives an offer that suits him.
After a successful career in the QMJHL with the Val-d’Or Foreurs, the Saint John Sea Dogs and the Moncton Wildcats, the 21-year-old took part in the Philadelphia Flyers’ training camp last September.
But things didn’t go the way he wanted them to.
“I didn’t receive any offers that really interested me,” he admits. “I knew that university hockey was a very good caliber, and with the scholarships we get after our time in the QMJHL to continue our studies, it was really tempting.”
So, he decided to turn to the Concordia Stingers and study finance.
“If I didn’t get any interesting offers, I knew that was the path I wanted to take. But if I’m offered a contract in the next few years, I’m sure I’ll accept it”, admits the one who hasn’t given up on the dream of making a living with hockey.
For Jonathan Lemieux, it was only natural to begin his university studies in the meantime.
“Academics have always been important in my family, even if I was doing well in sports. But let’s face it, I still have a passion for hockey,” he adds in a hurry.
“I’ve always been serious about my studies. I think it’s important to have a good Plan B. I want to play hockey as long as possible, but I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.”
Most players who make the transition from junior to university hockey go through a bit of an adjustment period, most notably in terms of style of play, schedule, and lifestyle. In the case of the Stingers’ No. 29, that adjustment has been very quick.
“Right now, I’m doing well in school and in hockey. I can’t ask for anything more,” he says. “I still live with my parents, about 30 minutes from the university [in Beloeil], but I was also ready to move into an apartment if I needed to.”
The university schedule is very different from junior hockey’s, with only about 30 games per season.
“We have fewer games than in major junior, but we still play twice a week. It’s a good thing, because university takes up more time than CEGEP. We have a pretty busy schedule, but I’m a pretty organized guy.”
Jonathan Lemieux says he really likes the style of play in university hockey.
“There are fewer powerhouses across the league than in junior. The good players are better distributed across the different teams, and those who have a little less talent compensate with hard work. The standings are very tight, and we’ve seen a lot of surprises in our division.”
The Stingers play in a division that includes the UQTR Patriotes, McGill Redbirds, Ontario Tech Ridgebacks, Carleton Ravens, Ottawa Gee-Gees, Queen’s Gaels, RMC Paladins and Nipissing Lakers.
“Most of the players in this league are guys who have never received a professional offer. It makes for a fast, physical league. There’s a little less finishing around the net than in junior, but it’s still some very good hockey,” says the netminder.
The other big difference is the smaller crowds that follow university hockey.
“I spent a month [with the Flyers] in Philadelphia. Even for practices, there were fans in the stands!” he laughs. “But when I play my games, I’m fully focused, no matter how many people are in the arena.”
Jonathan Lemieux says the Stingers want to have a strong second half of the season to earn a spot at the upcoming Canadian Championship, to be held in Charlottetown in March.
On a personal note, the goaltender wants to make his mark at the university level in order to attract the attention of professional teams.
He’s also not writing off a possible career on the Old Continent.
“My dream is still to play professionally in North America,” says Lemieux. “I’d like to sign a contract in the American Hockey League and try to make a name for myself. But if that doesn’t work out, they have some very nice leagues in Europe, and it’s a great caliber too.”