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OJS Coach Profile: Stéphane Levere

Things will be different this winter for Ottawa Junior Senators goaltending coach Stephane Levere, who now has a pair of youthful netminders under his tutelage.
 
In recent years the team has featured the likes of Alexandre Savard-Bélanger and Ian Andriano between the pipes. The veterans kept the Junior Senators among the league leaders in goals against and in 2015-16, Ottawa allowed the fewest goals in the CCHL.  
 
This time around OJS enters the campaign without a clear-cut number-one goalkeeper. Nevertheless, Levere sees plenty of potential in Francis Boisvert and Gabriel Carriere, who both played well as the Junior Senators swept three matches in the season-opening showcase.
 
But Levere realizes it won’t be smooth sailing throughout the season and that his young charges may have to weather a few storms along the way. For example, both goalies had rough outings against Carleton Place and Kanata, respectively, following the showcase.
 
“I know what kind of talent our goalies have and I really expect that they’re going to do well,” Levere said. “It’s a process though. They’re both learning the league and they’re going to get better and better as the season goes on. Tough games are part of the process. They happen to everyone. It’s how you handle it that matters.”
 
Boisvert, who catches with his left hand, turned up at training camp at the Junior Senators Evaluation Camp in June and was so impressive that he earned a spot on the team. The 18-year-old played for Ulysse Academy in Quebec last season.
 
Carriere, who catches with his right hand, was more a known entity. Last season he played for Ottawa’s U18 squad and turned heads with a sub 2.00 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. Although just 16 years of age at the start of the campaign, Levere and Coach/GM Martin Dagenais brought him onto the big team.
 
“They’re both great kids, who are kind of quiet off the ice,” Levere said. “They’re totally different on the ice. Francis likes to play the puck and he plays with emotion. Gabe is very technical, he’s as smooth as you can get. They’re both very skilled in their own way.”
 
The arrival of new video coach Stuart Battrick enables Levere to better work with the goalies on positioning and technique to reinforce fundamentals and help them learn from their mistakes.
 
“It’s a great teaching tool, but it’s very important to also focus on the positives,” Levere said. “Last year I was trying to make videos with my iPhone or from the online streams. With Stuart there we get very high quality videos. I’m already asking him to make regular clips of our goalies.”
 
Away from the ice it should come as no surprise that the Junior Senators assistant coach is a school teacher. Levere works with special needs children and teaches physical education at École Secondaire Catholique Casselman. He’s also involved with The Special Olympics. The Ottawa University graduate joined the Junior Senators staff in 2014. A former netminder himself, Levere began coaching goalies at the tender age of 13 and has been doing it ever since.