Ottawa Junior Senators right-winger Gabriel Morin said the goal of a hockey player is to “start the season in flip-flops and end the season in flip-flops.”
He was referring to the fact that the hockey season begins in the summer and can extend into the spring if you are lucky enough to be playing post-season hockey.
Although it may not be flip-flop weather currently, it is still spring and Morin and the Junior Senators are making a deep run in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) playoffs. And, their 20-year-old winger has been a big part of it, averaging nearly a point per game with six goals and six assists in 13 post-season matches.
The Junior Senators, who were the CCHL’s regular season Yzerman Division champions, are once again playing for the Bogart Cup. The Senators downed the Brockville Braves, 4-3, in the best-of-seven semi-final series and are taking on the Carleton Place Canadians in the final for the third straight year. As of now, the Senators are up 2-0 against the Canadians, but they know it means absolutely nothing at they are playing arguably the best team in the nation.
Beyond the contribution he is making for the Junior Senators, Morin is just happy to be out on the ice playing again. He signed with Ottawa before the start of the 2017-18 season in June, but before the campaign even began he suffered a serious shoulder injury. It required countless hours of rehab that were trying to say the least.
“It took a lot of patience,” he said of his recovery. “It was a matter of when and not if. I still went to every practice. I had a lot of support from friends and family. I’m very grateful for that.”
It was a longer timetable to return than expected, but Morin persevered. By early February he was back in action. He played himself into game shape with a stint in the CCHL2 with Winchester Hawks, where he scored nine points in nine games (five goals and four assists) before finally joining the Junior Senators for the stretch run of the regular season.
The long journey back was for with it. “Being in the playoffs is the cherry on the sundae,” he said.
Morin spent the last three years playing for the Sorel-Tracy Rebelles in the Quebec CHL. He caught the eye of Ottawa GM/Coach Martin Dagenais and he and his teammate, Pierre-Luc Veillette, were invited to attend Junior Senators practices where, they were just what Dagenais was looking for, a pair of 20-year-old veterans who could contribute on both ends of the ice rink. Both signed in June.
Joining the Jr. Senators with Veillette helped make the move from Quebec to Ottawa smoother. Morin considers his speed, timing and decision making his strengths as a hockey player along with his 6’0, 179-pound frame which allows him to play a hard-nosed game when necessary.
“I like the physical part of the game,” he pointed out.
It comes naturally to Morin because he played football before turning his attention completely to hockey. He was a two-way player running the ball on offense and being a hitter on defense.
“I think I’m a smart player,” he explained. “I can make plays and I love playing hard defense.”
His all-around hockey skills along with his ability to play all three zones are a perfect match for an organization that stresses defense.
Now Morin is hoping to help reverse the Canadians’ triumphs the last two years in the Bogart Cup finals.
“I want to be part of the rivalry and help our team win this time,” said Morin.