Canton, N.Y. — Though they never faced one another in a CCHL game, goaltenders Francis Marotte and Francis Boisvert both left their mark on the league.
Marotte was a workhorse over two seasons with Nepean (2014-16), earning All-Star honours in his 20-year; Boisvert was the backbone of last season’s Ottawa Jr. Senators RBC Cup run.
The two squared off last Saturday night at a sold-out Appleton Arena, as Marotte — a graduate transfer from Robert Morris — pitched a 21-save shutout in a 2-0 win for the Clarkson Golden Knights against Boisvert’s Saints.
Their paths never crossed north of the border, but their journeys to Division I hockey were both forged an hour’s drive north of Canton and Potsdam in ‘the Central’.
“I didn’t have a team almost halfway through my 19 year,” remembers Marotte, now one of the top goaltenders in college hockey with a .940 save-% on a powerhouse Clarkson team. “Nepean picked me up, believed in me as a person (and) helped me fight through to make it to D-1 hockey.”
A veteran of the NCAA, Marotte graduated from Robert Morris in three years with 107 games and a finance degree to his name.
“I thought a change of scenery would be good for me, (and) Clarkson’s a really good school so it was a great fit for me,” explained the Longueuil, Que. native. “We have a lot of potential as a team, (and) hopefully we make it far — we’ll see what happens with professional hockey after, (but) I’ve enjoyed every second of Clarkson.”
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Boisvert is at the other end of the spectrum, a true freshman battling for ice time on a rebuilding St. Lawrence team under first-year head coach Brent Brekke.
“When the coaches got hired here, they saw me on video,” explains Boisvert, who went to two RBC Cups as a member of the Jr. Sens. “When I got invited to Senators (NHL development) camp, they drove down to Ottawa to see me on the ice for the first time.
“Coach Brekke did an unbelievable job to help me through the complicated NCAA process — all the papers, transcripts for the eligibility centre,” continues Boisvert, last season’s CCHL playoff MVP. “It was a stressful summer, but when I got here, I was pretty confident from day one and it’s an incredible place.”
Boisvert points to Connor Hicks, his goalie partner during the Jr. Sens’ 2018 playoff run, as a major part of his success since the two shared a crease.
“When we got into the playoffs that year, he was unbelievable — the league, the Fred Page, he won everything,” laughs Boisvert. “I remember a moment when we won the Bogart Cup, my coach said ‘hey, you’ve got a lot of pressure for next year’.
“In 2018-19, I took all the experience I accrued from Connor and had a good season.”
In different ways, the two netminders have the world as their oyster.
Marotte, with his nine-course load first semester and monster on-ice numbers, is on track to obtain his MBA and launch a professional hockey career.
Boisvert, as part of the new era at St. Lawrence, will have the chance to help redefine a program while playing in a pretty college town within driving distance of his family in Quebec.
“I’m not too sure what I want to do,” chuckles Marotte in the hallway after Clarkson’s rivalry game win. “Obviously, I want to play hockey — but we’ll see where the future takes me.”
One thing is certain: Plenty of friendly faces from around the Central will be following the careers of both goaltenders every step of the way.