Rookie forward Philippe Sanche has made an early impact with the men’s hockey team
Big things come in small packages. In the case of Stingers rookie forward Philippe Sanche, that statement has rung true for his entire life. At just five-foot-five, Sanche has never been the biggest guy on his team. What he may lack in size, he’s made up for in spades with his heart and passion for the game of hockey.
“Because I’ve always been smaller, I’ve always had to work harder than [most people],” Sanche said. “All my coaches told me that work ethic is more important than talent.”
Getting into hockey was an interesting journey in itself for Sanche. While he may be in love with the sport now, there was a time when he considered leaving hockey altogether. In his defense, he was only three-years-old at the time.
“I started skating at three years old,” Sanche said. “I watched hockey on TV, my dad liked it and I decided I wanted to play. I actually wanted to quit, though, because I didn’t like to skate. My parents told me that if I started something, I had to finish it. Eventually I would cry because I didn’t want to get off the ice.”
Sanche has never looked back on his decision to continue playing the sport. He went on to play hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
“I played Midget Espoir at 15 and saw a few of my friends play in the QMJHL,” said Sanche. “It looked like fun and I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Sanche had a successful career in the QMJHL, recording 79 goals and 200 points in 207 games. His best season came in 2014-15 when Sanche recorded career-highs in every statistical category, including 65 games played, 36 goals, 36 assists, 72 points, 55 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of plus 23.
Although Sanche is no longer an active player in the QMJHL, there’s no denying the impact he left on the league. In 2015, Sanche won the award for the hardest working player in the QMJHL—an award voted on by fans of the league. Even more impressive was the fact that the Armada created the “Philippe Sanche Trophy,” which was given to Sanche to commemorate his work ethic. The award is now given to the hardest working player on the Armada team each season.
“It’s pretty nice [to leave that legacy behind],” Sanche said. “I didn’t score 100 goals in a year, I didn’t break any record, but it’s nice to get rewarded for just working hard. It’s what I’ve done since I was young.”
Going from the QMJHL to university hockey has been an interesting transition for Sanche so far, although he almost didn’t play for Concordia. Growing up, the Mercier, QC native said he always had some interest in attending McGill. When Stingers head coach Marc-André Élement talked with Sanche about recruitment, however, that all changed.
As Sanche put it, Élement didn’t pressure him, he just made it clear that the Stingers really wanted him—more than the McGill Redmen did.
Now 21-year-old Sanche is seven games into his career with the Concordia Stingers and he’s done well to establish himself early. In seven games, he’s scored one goal and seven points while skating alongside forward Scott Oke and captain Olivier Hinse.
“It’s [Hinse’s] fifth year here. He knows a lot about this league,” Sanche said. “It’s always tough to transition from league to league, and he made it much easier on me and for everyone else that’s come into this program.”
Sanche grew up playing hockey in Canada and like any other hockey-hungry Canadian growing up, a career in the NHL has always been something he’s thought about. A realistic mindset has kept Sanche grounded, though, and his success and work ethic can be attributed to that realistic perspective.
“I dreamed of playing in the NHL like every kid, but it was never one of my goals,” Sanche said. “I’ve always wanted to play hockey to have fun, and I’d love to make a career out of it, but I’m taking it step by step.”
If not the NHL, a hockey career in Europe is definitely on Sanche’s radar..For now though, he’s more concerned with playing hockey with the Stingers and doing well both on the ice and in the classroom.
Sanche is currently enrolled in independent studies at Concordia, but his ultimate goal is to go into business and study accounting. While he would love to make hockey his career, Sanche is taking the appropriate steps to ensure he has a good foundation to fall back on, or even to transition to after his hockey career is finished.
Right now, Sanche is just enjoying his time playing hockey—something he’s done for the last 18 years of his life.
“The feeling you get when you go to the rink—you play with your friends,” Sanche said. “That’s why I love hockey.”