From nothing to something is the only way to describe the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees men's hockey program.
Shut down by the school following an off-ice incident in Thunder Bay, Ont. during a road trip in February of 2014 which resulted in sexual assault charges against a pair of players and the subsequent suspension and eventual firing its head coach, the Gee-Gees returned to the OUA fold for the 2016-17 season after a 15-month hiatus.
With no staff and just a single returning player, the job was a major undertaking. That task was handed to Gatineau, Que. native Patrick Grandmaitre who was given the head coaching reigns after working as an assistant coach with the Gee-Gees women's program and founding a hockey program at Gatineau’s Collège Nouvelles-Frontières.
After captaining both the Victoriaville Tigers and the Quebec Remparts during a five-year stint in the QMJHL, Grandmaitre went on to become a student-athlete as well as team captain at St. Francis Xavier University, leading the team to a then-CIS title in 2004 as well as a pair of runner-ups in 2001 and again in 2003. He also played four years of pro hockey in Germany.
After an exhaustive recruiting effort, Grandmaitre and his staff iced a roster of 23 freshmen and three players with university experience to compete in what is the 125th season of University of Ottawa hockey.
With no great hopes other than a promise from the coach of a hardworking and dedicated group of student athletes, the Gee-Gees have exceeded all expectations.
They finished the regular season with a record of 15-8-5, placed sixth in the 10-team OUA East (despite being tied with both the UQTR Patriotes and Carleton Ravens with 35 points apiece) and qualified for the U SPORTS playoffs in their first year back.
They were also the hottest team down the stretch with a record of 8-2 and were named U SPORTS team of the month for their effort.
The only player on the roster with a Gee-Gees background is defenceman Gabriel Vermette from Mirabel, Que. He played for Ottawa in 2013-14 after a four-year stint in the QMJHL. He tallied two goals and added 10 assists this season.
The other two players on the squad with university playing experience are defenceman Johney Parise-Cormier (Havre-Saint-Pierre, Que.) and forward Justin Charbonneau (Bromont, Que.), who both played NCAA hockey with New England College and Norwich, respectively.
Grandmaitre's first recruit to the team was defenceman Matt Dunlop, who played four years in the OJHL with the Stouffville Spirit and Markham Royals before signing on with the Gee-Gees. The solid rearguard had a goal and 10 helpers this past campaign.
The leading scorer for Ottawa in their return was Kevin Domingue, who finished the regular season with 31 points (16G, 15A) in 28 starts. The Laval, Que. native played three years of major junior hockey with Sherbrooke Phoenix in the QMJHL and one year with the Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL before heading to Ottawa.
Cody Drover (Toronto, Ont.) and Jacob Harris (Georgetown, Ont.) were next in line with 23 and 22 points respectively. Both players tallied six times, with Drover registering a team-high 17 assists.
Drover played junior hockey in the Maritime Hockey League for the Dieppe Commandos and recorded 63 points (25G, 38A) over two seasons. Before Ottawa, Harris played 251 games over five seasons in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves and Guelph Storm. He had 50 goals and 63 assists during that tenure.
Goaltending duties were shared during the regular season by Graham Hunt, the lone American-born player on the squad from Concord, Mass., and Anthony Brodeur, who hails from Morin Heights, Que.
During the regular season, Hunt appeared in 19 games and started 18. He had a record of 9-8, a 2.68 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Brodeur appeared in 12 games, started 10 and finished with a record of 6-5 with a GAA of 2.73 and .913 save percentage.
The Gee-Gees' inspired season continued into the first round of the OUA East playoffs, but a Hollywood-type finish was not to be. Despite taking the Queen's Gaels to double overtime in the opening two games and splitting those matches by identical 3-2 counts, Ottawa came up just short in the third and deciding game of the series, losing 2-0 in Kingston.
Despite the first round postseason ouster, the Gee-Gees are definitely back and already looking forward to the 2017-18 campaign.Back to Top
1) 6 Promising NCAA Hockey Players To Watch This Year
2) Big Names on the Move Following QMJHL Trade Deadline
3) Max Gerlach Bounces Back in Off-Season
4) Common Hockey Injuries and How to Treat Them
5) Meet the 2018 World Junior Team Canada