The Halifax Mooseheads have been skating in front of their hometown crowd in the Halifax Metro Centre. Moosemaniacs have seen the offensive exploits of players like Alex Tanguay, who registered 47 goals in 51 games in 98-99. Others saw Ladislav Nagy put up 71 goals and 126 points in 63 games in that same 98-99 season. Many saw Ramzi Abid blaze onto the scene from Acadie-Bathurst, to go onto his best junior season with 158 points in 72 games. This season, the fans of the Halifax Mooseheads are seeing a different breed of potential superstar in the making; Louis Mandeville.
Mandeville burst onto the scene during the 2000-2001 season when his current junior team, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, dealt him to the Mooseheads. Since that trade, his game has shown nothing but improvement. He completed the season with 22 points in 28 games for Halifax, after registering only 17 points in 42 games with the Huskies. But the story of Louis Mandeville starts much earlier than that.
After a hugely successful year with Col. Lemoyne in Midget, Louis realized that he could have a shot at the NHL somewhere down the road.
“Probably in Midget AAA I had a really good season,” said Louis, “People were talkin’ about me so I thought about it a bit at that time.”
People continued to talk as Mandeville made the jump for Midget hockey into Major Junior with Rouyn-Noranda, however, deciding between Major Junior and College hockey was one that Mandeville was forced to ponder.
Mandeville could have either taken the Major Junior route, or through the NCAA, when Maine University offered him a scholarship to play with them. Mandeville credits his youth to not seeing the positive side of taking the scholastic route:
“My dad wanted me to go at Maine University,” explained Louis, “but I guess I was still too young to see the positive side of it so I chose junior.”
When asked if, knowing what he knew now, his decision would be any different, he shrugged it off saying that he was quite happy playing in Halifax, and knowing the course he took, he wouldn’t have made any changes. This could be because Mandeville found his game after struggling his first season of junior, and credits one man for his development.
Mandeville, not one to claim all the glory for himself, credits his coach Shawn Mackenzie(Mooseheads Head Coach) as his motivating force for developing his skills and potential. He credits Mackenzie’s confidence to play Mandeville in all kinds of situations really helped his confidence and development. Confidence is an important part of anyone’s game, but he credits his confidence for his 48 points so far this season, and his +32.
“Just confidence. I always knew that I could do good but I needed the confidence to do it and this year I was given lots of ice time and everything went well.”
He also credits Mackenzie with the rounding out of his game, his ability to play both ends of the ice, but Mandeville favors the defensive aspect of his play, when asked what he does best on the ice.
“I guess I’m an all-round defenseman,” said Mandeville of his game, “I can play both the offensive and defensive game and I can be physical if I have to. I’ve really worked hard on it(defense), and it’s getting good now.”
It’s the rounding out of his game that the Columbus Blue Jackets were hoping they’d see when the organization made him the 292nd overall pick in the 2000 draft, a pick that is beginning to look more and more like an excellent steal, and making the Jackets scouting look very impressive.
The selection Columbus made with its 3rd pick in the 9th round, and last of the draft, came as a shock to Louis. It was his father, Rene, who relayed the message to Louis, who was playing a game of pool with a friend at the time of the announcement. “He thought I was kidding,” said Rene, “and was quite happy.”
Shocked was the word used by Mandeville, who explained that he didn’t have any solid expectations for the 2000 draft, because he had suffered a broken collarbone on his right shoulder, an injury that kept him out for 2 months of the season.
“I was kind of shocked, I never though I was going to get drafted, I had an injury during the season and didn’t play much so it was a really unwaited surprise.”
Mandeville also understands the situation in Columbus, who have a plethora of talent on the blue line coming up through the works to add to Rodislav Klesla and others, including Cole Jarrett, Paul Manning, Aaron Johnson, and others. Louis didn’t appear to be the least bit intimidated by all the competition circling around the future of the Jackets blue line.
“I know it’s going to be difficult but there’s nothing I can do about those guys,” explains Louis, “I’ll just do my job and hope for the best in the future.”
Mandeville gave the Jackets a brief glimpse of what he could do at their training camp at the beginning of this season. Mandeville didn’t really have any expectations heading into the camp, and took as much in as he could as a learning experience. He particularly took back to Halifax the fact that one has to be in top shape, and that one always has to help out and be there for your partner on the ice. Louis has high expectations for himself, and would most definitely like to see himself stay in the Jackets organization, but for the time being, wants to focus solely on the Halifax Mooseheads, who are aiming for a strong playoff run this season.
“As a team I think we’re really confident heading into the playoffs, we’ve had good success over the course of the season, and we feel we can beat anyone,” Mandeville said, “Personally I’d like to have a great playoff run and play really strong defensively (because) we’re going to have to play a good defensive game if we (want) to go far in the playoffs.”
Mandeville figures that as long as they stick to the things that have made them successful so far in league play, they should do quite well in the post-season.
“We’re always trying to improve our defense, and I think that’s why we’ve had good success. Teams that are offense first can go 10 games without losing, but when they struggle they have more difficulty overcoming it, and that’s the difference between us and the other team.”
Always ready for the competition, Mandeville sees overcoming Cape-Breton as their biggest challenge, should they lock up in the playoffs. Cape-Breton has an excellent blend of size and skill, and have been on a tear in recent weeks, however, Louis and his Halifax teammates aren’t about to overlook any opponent they have to face en route to a Championship.
While a QMJHL Championship would be a dream for Louis, he sees the bigger picture, and that’s a lengthy career in the NHL. Louis made it particularly clear that he wants to be an integral piece in building Columbus into a contender in the coming years, but only when he is ready to make the jump to the NHL, which remains to be seen. He understands that a few years in the AHL could possibly help his NHL jump, but when it is all said and done, he wants to be considered an all-round defenseman with good offensive potential, at whichever level he should play at.