OJS Player Profile: Antoine Gauthier

by Tim Morris

As the youngest Ottawa Junior Senator and a rookie, Antoine Gauthier has a front row seat to high-level junior hockey.

The 17-year-old Ottawa native is learning the ropes while playing forward for the defending Bogart Cup champions, who are seeking a fourth straight championship this spring.

“The transition from minor to major (junior hockey) was very big,” said Gauthier. “I’ve learned so much. It takes a lot of maturity and commitment on the part of everyone. Everyone is held accountable.”

As the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) season veered toward the playoffs, Gauthier discovered why the Junior Senators have dominated the league. The team takes its play to another level, not just in games, but in practices as well.

“The intensity is higher and higher in practice and games,” he remarked. “We all push each other to be better.”

For his part, Gauthier knows what his role is with the defending champions. “My job is to bring energy, be effective on the forecheck, and make good passes to create scoring opportunities for my linemates,” he said.

Early in the season was a time for figuring out what he could do best for the team. At 5-11, 160 pounds, Gauthier lacked the physical maturity of the older players and that made him reluctant, at first, to hold onto the puck and make plays. He was more likely to dump the puck and chase after it. But, his greatest strength is his skating and, he noted, that speed can overcome a lot. He soon started to trust his speed.

“I had to work on hanging onto the puck a little longer,” he pointed out. “Even though the defenders are bigger than me I realized I can still skate around them.”

With that, Gauthier, who looks at himself as a playmaking forward, was able to do what he does best, making plays for his teammates.

During the regular season, Gauthier played in 41 games, posting eight goals and 12 assists. In 10 playoff matches, he’s added two goals and an assist. He scored just 1:35 into the first period to get his team off to a flying start in the pivotal third game of Ottawa’s semi-final series against the Brockville Braves, which the Junior Sens went on to win four games to one.

Before he started playing hockey, Gauthier noted that he took skating lessons first. He credits that for making him such a good skater.

Prior to joining the Junior Senators this season, Gauthier played his way up through the youth ranks and suited up for Ottawa’s U18 team last season. He credited that experience with helping him make the transition to junior hockey.

He also noted that he has learned a lot from coaches throughout his career, including the Junior Senators staff, and that’s why he’s playing an increasingly important role in the CCHL playoffs with the defending champions.

“It’s a tribute to how good my coaches have been and how well they treated me,” he said.

Clearly, Gauthier has learned those lessons well.