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Lighting the lamp in his first year

Men’s hockey forward Anthony De Luca has made an early impact with the Stingers

After a first-round exit from the playoffs last season, the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team went on a mission this offseason to acquire as many talented rookies as possible.

De Luca is in his rookie season with the Stingers and is tied for second in the league in scoring. Photos by Brianna Thicke.

The team brought in starting goaltender Philippe Cadorette, forwards Philippe Sanche and Anthony Beauregard, as well as defenceman Mickael Beauregard. Also among these new players is rookie forward Anthony De Luca who, in his first year alone, is ranked second in U SPORTS in scoring, with 41 points. He has 23 goals and 18 assists, and has the most goals of all rookies in the league.

“Honestly, I think last year helped me a lot, going to a pro team at 20 years old,” De Luca said. “It’s hard to get used to the pro game at such a young age but, once you go through that, you really get used to anything and nothing shakes you up.”

The pro team De Luca referred to is the Alaska Aces of the ECHL, a team he played for during the 2015-16 season. With the Aces, De Luca played 46 games, scoring seven goals and earning 13 assists.

For De Luca, the hectic travel schedule and experiencing different time zones on a weekly basis is what has allowed him to deal with any kind of hardship thrown at him on and off the ice.

De Luca said the toughest part about transitioning from pro hockey to university hockey was getting to know all of the new guys he’d be playing with.

“You’ve got to adapt to every league you play in,” De Luca said. “From going to junior to pro, it was all about speed, but now it’s just about execution and finding chemistry.”

Since joining the Stingers, De Luca has played most games on a line with captain Olivier Hinse and Sanche. All three forwards have had success playing together, as Hinse and Sanche both have 28 points each.

For the past few games, however, the Stingers have been without Hinse due to his involvement with Team Canada at the Winter World University Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In order to fill the gap, De Luca and Sanche have been playing with rookie forward Anthony Beauregard, who joined the team in January. So far, the line has been just as good, with Beauregard picking up 15 points in just 10 games.

De Luca and his teammates will be preparing for the playoffs in the coming weeks.

“It’s fun to be playing with a lot of good guys,” De Luca said. “I’d say Sanche is my best buddy off the ice so obviously it is easier for me to be playing with him. Now that Beauregard has jumped into the lineup, it’s even better.”

This season, the Stingers are having one of their best seasons in years. They are second in the East Division—last year they finished seventh. They have a record of 18-7-2 and are already eight wins ahead of last year’s team which finished with just 10.

U SPORTS has the Stingers ranked seventh in the country and in heavy competition with the Queen’s Golden Gaels and the McGill Redmen for top spot in their division.

De Luca explained that a large part of their improvement from last season is thanks to the work of head coach Marc-André Élement.

“[Élement’s] a younger guy and the players relate to him. They can go into his office at any time to just talk,” De Luca said. “It’s nice to know that he’s always on our side.”

De Luca further explained his respect for his coach by telling the story of how Élement got him invited to Team Canada’s Winter World University Games try-outs. Originally, De Luca was not invited to the training camp, so Élement called the coach of the team and got De Luca an invitation.

However, because De Luca is in independent studies and hasn’t declared a major, he was not eligible to play in the tournament.

Now, the Stingers are looking towards the playoffs as a top-seeded team in their division. De Luca said the team has mixed emotions heading into the post-season.

“I’d say the mood in the room is a mix of nerves and confidence,” De Luca said. “A lot of the guys in the room have played junior hockey so they know what it’s like. The season is its own thing and the playoffs are a new season so anyone can beat anyone, we just need to be ready mentally and physically.”

De Luca and the rest of the Stingers will take on the UOIT Ridgebacks in the first round of the playoffs, which start on Feb. 15.

The interview in this article was conducted by Matthew OHayon and Safia Ahmad as part of an on-air interview with CJLO 1690.  The interview was done in partnership with Alexander Cole who wrote the article.

About Alexander Cole