by Warren Rappleyea
Following a strong showing in the Ottawa Junior Senators’ run to the Bogart and Fred Page Cup championships, left-winger Christopher Piché is fast becoming a key member of this year’s squad.
The native of Ferme-Neuve, Québec, has shown his grit both on and off the ice. Last season he battled through a bout with mononucleosis as well as a few minor injuries, but managed to get in 41 regular season games and produced 15 points. So far this season, Piché has played in 24 games, while contributing a pair of goals to go along with five assists helping Ottawa to battle for the top spot in the Central Canada Hockey League’s (CCHL) Yzerman Division.
“Christopher is a versatile forward who can play on any line and be effective,” Dagenais said. He missed a big part of last season, and struggled through injuries once again this year. If he can remain healthy, he will continue to be a big part of our team’s success this season.”
That, of course, is music to the 19-year-old’s ears. In addition to giving Piché regular shifts on different lines, the Ottawa bench boss has also used the winger at times on both the power play and penalty kill units.
“I’m one of the veterans now and the coaches have more confidence in me and they know what I can do,” Piché said. “As a player, I always want to get better and make sure I pay attention to the details. My goal is to work as hard as I can on every shift.”
That kind of intensity and willingness to compete often finds the 5-9, 163-pounder heading into the corner against a bigger defenseman and more often than not coming away with the puck. Speed is another one his best assets and Piché is well aware of the advantage it brings.
“Being quick really helps me in the small areas where I can use my speed to get some space,” continued Piché, who billets in Embrun. “It helps me create opportunities and make plays and to get to loose pucks on the penalty kill. I’m also pretty good at retrieving the puck when we’re on the power play. I try to concentrate on doing what’s necessary and not over thinking it.”
Those natural instincts have impressed Dagenais, who said of Piché, “He’s a strong skater who plays the game the right way. He doesn’t turn pucks over and has a great shot that he could use more often. He’s a player that came into his own in the playoffs last season so we know we’ll be able to count on him in crunch time.”
As a rookie a year ago, Piché said he benefitted from the guidance of older players. Now, as a veteran, he believes it is part of the job to help the younger players with occasional advice and encouragement.
On a personal level, Piché is taking classes at Carleton University focused on criminology and finance, and he is hoping to continue his studies—and his hockey career—at an NCAA Division I school.