On October 22nd, 6892 spectators showed up at the Quebec Pepsi Colisee to see the second battle of the week between the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and the home team Quebec Remparts.
Three days earlier, in an emotive game, the Remparts have rolled 9-1 over the Sagueneens. That night, 2005 NHL prospect Alexandre Vincent gave up three goals on 16 shots before being removed in the 22nd minute of play.
In Quebec, the 2003 QMJHL seventh round draftee is back between the pipes for the Sags. The thing that has changed tonight as he is ‘the rampart’, stopping two breakaways, making remarkable saves and blocking 47 of the home team’s 49 shots.
“Vincent made the difference tonight,” said Quebec Remparts coach Eric Lavigne in the post game press conference.
“I wanted to rebound tonight after been removed from the net in the last game,” Vincent told Hockey’s Future in the Sags dressing room.
“Vincent was very good tonight and reacted very well under the circumstances,” said Sags coach Richard Martel, referring to the game in Chicoutimi.
A classic story
Alexandre Vincent is born on December 11th of 1986, in Saint-Leonard d’Aston, a community of 2000 located 140 kilometers north east of Montreal in the province of Quebec.
The story of the young goalie is a classic one for Canadian hockey players. “When I was a little kid, I have always watched the NHL games on television. In the living room, for hours, I tried to make the same moves the professional goalies were making on TV,” recalled Vincent.
“I was a goaltender in the street hockey we were playing in my village. Some of my friends suggested to me to try playing real hockey on ice. That is the way it all began,” explained Vincent.
He played his minor AA hockey in Trois-Rivieres. He then moved on the east side of the Saint-Maurice River in Cap-de-la-Madeleine where he played for the midget AAA Estacades.
“I never won any championship, my teams were average at best. On the other side, I got used to face a lot of shots and it’s contributed to my development,” recalled Vincent.
“At the age of 15 years old, Vincent was confident that he would be drafted by a QMJHL team but he wasn’t and he was very disappointed,” Group Paraphe president and Vincent agent Paul Corbeil said. The following year, he was a late draftee.
“Looking the way he is playing now, the role he has with the Sags and the good words we have heard from the professional scouts since the beginning of the season, we can say that we are very proud of him,” commented Corbeil at the Pepsi Colisee.
A lot of tools
The Sags goaltender is over 6’4, and weighs 205 pounds. “When we met him few years ago, he was already very tall but weighted only 147 pounds. We knew he needed to get stronger, especially stronger legs,” former Philadelphia Flyers Andre Dupont and now associated with the Group Paraphe Agency said.
“He is big, moves very well, is an excellent athlete and adopts a good butterfly style,” commented Goalies’ World Magazine Editor Gilles Moffet during the game in Quebec.
“He looks pretty much like Jeff Deslauriers (Edmonton Oilers 2002 second round pick) with the difference that Vincent is a lefty,” added Moffet, who played at the NCAA level and in the minor pro leagues.
Vincent acknowledged that he in fact owes a part of his success to Deslauriers having learned a lot from him last year in Chicoutimi.
Asked to comment about Vincent’s qualities, Sags coach Richard Martel said, “Vincent gives very few rebounds, he is quite fast, he moves his legs pretty well; speed is his main quality and there is indeed nobody as fast as Alexandre right now in the QMJHL. He is also really calm and pretty self-confident. If he keeps working hard, he will have a great junior career.”
Vincent said that he likes to challenge the opponent not fearing to move forward. “My size helps me a lot, I can cover the upper part of the net with my stature and my fast legs help me to cover the bottom part as well,” said Vincent.
Among the best
The 12th goalie selected in the 2003 QMJHL midget draft played 34 games last season at the age of 16 years, recording a GAA of 3.14 and a respectable save percentage of .909.
Vincent is now the leading goalie of Chicoutimi. With almost a quarter of the season played, he is recording a GAA of 2.37 and a save percentage of .929, showing a clear progression from last year. “I’m improving from game to game,” he told HF.
Vincent is indeed fourth in GAA and third in save percentage. The only players ahead of him are NHL draftees Jonathan Boutin (2003 Tampa Bay’s 3rd round), Corey Crawford (2003 Chicago’s 2nd round) and Jason Churchill (2004 San Jose’s 4th round).
Vincent said that his focus is on helping his team going as far as possible this season. “Of course, I would love to eventually get an invitation to the U-20 Canadian team, every year I watch the World Junior Championship on TV and I get very excited,” stated Vincent.
The Sags goaltender hopes he will be selected at the [possible] next NHL Entry Draft, but he said he does not think too much about it for now. The season is still young and a lot of hockey has still to be played. But for now, it is obvious that scouting firms and professional scouts have a great appreciation of what Vincent has done up to now. They realize the distance the kid has traveled and most of all, the potential he has.
“I’m not surprised at his success, a tall goalie moving so quickly can’t do anything but having success which he deserves because he works so hard,” concluded two time Stanley Cup winner Andre Dupont after the game in Quebec.
Simon Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the Summit Series published in 2002.
Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.