Elie Boulerice has built a reputation as one of the hardest-working players in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) and when the Ottawa Junior Senators center skates onto the ice it’s not a welcome sight for opponents.
Now in his third CCHL season, Boulerice has the unenviable task of regularly lining up against the top line of whatever team the Junior Sens are playing. It’s not easy, but it’s every bit as important as scoring goals. And Boulerice revels in the role.
“The coaches look to my line to shut down our opponent and maybe get a goal ourselves,” he said. “It’s a big part of the game and we take pride in what we do. We’re looking to contribute any way we can.”
Boulerice has clearly earned the trust and confidence of Head Coach/GM Martin Dagenais, who also uses the Casselman, Ont., resident as one of Ottawa’s primary penalty killers.
“Elie is a team-first player which is rare these days,” Dagenais said. “A lot of players play the game for themselves, and then the team. Elie is not that type of player. That’s why he’s well respected in the dressing room. He understands the game well, and he can also provide secondary offense which makes him a valuable player for us. He’s definitely a key part of our team.”
The 5-9, 172-pounder has developed into an offensive threat, averaging more than two shots on goal per game. Prior to the holiday break, Boulerice had tallied six goals, including a short-hander, to go with 18 assists. He often plays with Pierre-Luc Veillette (24 goals) and Darcy Walsh (11 goals) illustrating that good defense often leads to offense.
One reason for this is that the Senators “defensive” line often starts out with the puck. To date Boulerice has won 61 percent of his face-offs—and Dagenais often sends the 19-year-old out to take important draws late in matches.
“I always practice my face-offs because getting the puck first is a big advantage,” Boulerice said. “I think I get better as games go along because I can get used to what the other team is trying to do and adjust.”
Modest and polite, Boulerice works equally hard off the ice. He’s carrying a full course load at Ottawa University where he is pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. In October, he was named the CCHL’s Gongshow Gear Academic Player of the Month for October. He previously won the award in February, 2017.
Boulerice also sported the team’s best moustache during the CCHL’s support of Movember and its beneficiary Prostate Cancer Canada to raise awareness and funds for research into men’s health issues.
Now clean-shaven, the 19-year-old is focused on helping the Junior Senators secure a fifth straight Yzerman Division crown and win the Bogart Cup. With 31 games of playoff experience in the past two years as Ottawa reached the finals both season, Boulerice knows what it will take to win a title.
“I learned so much during the last two playoffs,” he said. “The most important thing though, is that you have to be ready to play your best no matter what happens. Each shift is so important.”