by Warren Rappleyea
The high-flying Ottawa Junior Senators are expected to get another boost with the pending return of hard-working Émile Villiard.
The lefty shooting forward has been out of the lineup since suffering a broken hand during a 4-3 shootout victory over the Rockland Nationals on November 9. In 17 games prior to the injury, the 20-year-old proved to be a valuable addition, posting six goals, including a game winner against Nepean, to go with five assists.
Villiard said that he was pleased last season when the Junior Senators began scouting his games in his native Sorel-Tracy, QC, where he impressed with 22 goals and 20 assists in 34 matches.
The attraction was mutual.
“I was really interested in joining them for my final junior year,” Villiard explained. “I already knew a few guys who played for the Junior Senators, and they enjoyed their experience.”
Villiard arrived at training camp determined to earn a regular spot in Head Coach Kyle Makaric’s lineup. His work ethic and enthusiasm proved contagious, garnering the player the immediate respect—and recognition from his teammates.
“Emile is a first-year guy in our league, yet he’s a veteran who had enough of an impact that the other players voted to give him an ‘A’ as an alternate captain,” the coach explained. “He’s the kind of player who will do anything to win a game. He goes in hard on the puck, he’s a tenacious forechecker, and scores goals the difficult way, on rebounds and tip-ins.”
Villiard appreciates the confidence of his teammates. “I think they liked the fact that I did what had to be done with a good attitude. I don’t hesitate to position myself in front of the net and pay the price to score a goal. I’m also 20 years old and I want to set an example for the younger guys with a positive attitude and I’m always looking to improve.”
Prior to his injury, the 6-0. 175-pound forward was a fixture in the top half of the Ottawa lineup. He also saw time on the power-play, where he contributed three of his tallies.
To a man, each member of the Junior Senators will tell you he is a 200-foot player. That’s not surprising given the organization’s reputation for bringing well-rounded players to the capital city. The team takes pride in its defense, which has the lowest goals-against in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).
“I am a good player defensively,” Villiard said. “I’m able to understand and execute the game plan presented by my coaches.”
Makaric has also been pleased with Villiard’s consistency. “You know what you’re going to get from him every night,” the coach added.
Villiard said he picked up perseverance and strong work ethic from his parents, who also taught him to enjoy life. His father is an entrepreneur, and his mother is a teacher at a boarding school. Additionally, his sister is studying to become a pharmacist.
Like many of his teammates, Villiard’s personal hopes to play at the NCAA Division I level.
“My personal goal,” he said, “is to become a better hockey player as well as a better person by the end of the season. For the team, I want to win it all.”