From a successful playoff run that ended one win from gold at Canada’s
National Midget Championship, to a spot among the nation’s best at Canada’s
national under-17 development camp, it has been an eventful few months for
five members of the Cantonniers de Magog.
Charles Beaudoin, Isaac Belliveau, Patrick Guay, Marshall Lessard and
William Villeneuve represent the second-largest contingent of any club team
on the ice in Calgary – only the Toronto Marlboros, with seven, have more.
They are just three months removed from a trip to the TELUS Cup in Sudbury,
Ont., where they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Notre Dame Hounds in the
“It was a bit tough to lose in the final against Notre Dame, but we did
well over the past season; we are very proud,” says Villeneuve. “There was
a lot of good chemistry with the teammates, and to be here (at camp) with
four other teammates is great.”
Magog excelled in the Ligue de hockey midget AAA du Québec, topping the
standings with a 27-7-6 record and scoring a league-high 161 goals; Guay
led the way with 64 points, good for second in the league, while Villeneuve
paced all blue-liners with 34.
It had a slight hiccup in the semifinals, surviving a back-and-forth
seven-game series to eliminate Châteauguay before sweeping away
Trois-Rivières in four straight to claim the LHMAAAQ title for the second
time and punch their ticket to northern Ontario.
An extended season meant a short off-season, made even shorter by the
invite to Calgary – the players arrived at camp just 83 days after the
TELUS Cup gold medal game.
But with rosters spots at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on the line,
rest is the furthest thing from their minds.
“Extremely blessed,” Villeneuve says of being at camp. “I think it is a
bonus for us after the great season we had to be here. To have fun, learn
as much as possible, to have the best time here … I am very proud to be
“[It’s] a dream to represent your country; when I was young I look at the
World Juniors and stuff like that. So, I am here now, and I am going to do
whatever I can to make it.”
Guay in particular knows what it takes to be successful on the
international stage – his older sister, Alexie, wore red and white last
January at the 2018 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship, bringing home a
bronze medal from Russia.
“She just told me that I have to work hard throughout the entire week to
get a spot on the team, and the compete level is very high on the
international level,” he says. “I have got to work hard and do my best on
the ice like she did at the U18s.”
When camp ends, another new chapter begins for the Cantonniers quintet. All
five were early selections at the QMJHL Entry Draft – Villeneuve went
second overall to Saint John, followed by Guay (No. 5), Beaudoin (No. 11),
Lessard (No. 16) and Belliveau (No. 25) – and will depart for training camps in mid-August.
But just because they’ll be spread across Quebec and Atlantic Canada, it
doesn’t mean the friendships will suffer. Winning championships brings
teammates even closer, and the self-described “best friends” have a bond
that no distance can break.
“Going up to junior we are going to go different ways, but we are going to
continue to talk to each other, help each other,” Villeneuve says. “We know
that at 16 years old it’s going to be tough; we are going to have some
tough moments but I know next year is going to help us and we for sure are
going to stay friends.
“We are like a big family.”