Stingers’ new hockey captain confident his team will be better than ever
When the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team lost its captain and long-time forward George Lovatsis at the end of the 2013-2014 season, the team had some big shoes to fill. But head coach Kevin Figsby didn’t have to look far to find his next captain: six-foot-two centre Olivier Hinse, who is entering his third season with the Stingers, was more than ready to wear the C on his chest.
“I’m excited [to assume the captaincy]. I’m not a guy who’s going to talk a lot in the dressing room. On the ice, I know I can do the job. I’m working hard everyday. I’m not stressed with the [captain] role, I like it. I like making the guys feel like they’re part of the family,” he said.
Hinse’s hockey career began an hour and a half southeast of Montreal, in his hometown of Sherbrooke, at the age of seven. Originally a speed skater, Hinse hated the sport and begged his mom to let him play hockey instead.
Hinse then bounced around Quebec during his teenage years. At 16, Hinse played Midget AAA in Magog, before being a fifth-round pick of the Val-D’or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He never played with the Foreurs, but was traded to the Victoriaville Tigres a year later. He made his major junior debut with Victoriaville in 2008 and played there for a year and a half, before being traded to the Quebec Remparts, a team then coached by Montreal Canadiens hall-of-famer Patrick Roy. He played his final junior season for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada before coming to Concordia.
Hinse hit the highest and lowest points of his hockey career so far while playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His least favourite memory?
“That’s easy. When I broke my jaw. I received a shot in the face in junior,” he said. He missed the last 10 games of the season and the entire playoffs because of his broken jaw. Despite that injury, Hinse will never forget the playoff run he had with the Remparts in 2010.
“When I was in Quebec, we had a playoff game [against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan], we went to overtime, and I scored [the overtime winner], in front of all the fans,” he said. “It was crazy. Then, the night after, we had another game. It went to overtime, and I scored [the game winner] again. It was the biggest moment of my career.”
If he learned anything while playing in junior, it was how to be mature and responsible, a quality he has taken with him to the Stingers.
“[Even though] there’s a big group of adults taking care of you, if you’re not responsible or not mature enough, it can go the wrong way,” he said. “Being responsible is the biggest thing I’ve learned and that helped me when I got to university. It’s not the same. Now, you do your own thing.”
Last season, Hinse led the Stingers offensively with 35 points, including 18 goals, good enough to rank third in the Ontario University Athletics division. Hinse was the Ontario University Athletics East nominee for the Randy Gregg Award for the 2013-2014 season, an award “presented annually to the athlete who best exhibits outstanding achievement in hockey, academics and community involvement,” according to the Stingers website.
Hinse’s play helped lead Concordia to its first playoff appearance since 2011. Although they fell to their rival, the McGill Redmen, Hinse believes the team can rebound from their playoff loss and build from last season.
“With the team we have this year, we can have a long run,” he said. “I know we’re going to win the first round. [After that], the championship is close. We’re not far off [from that championship]. We have a lot of recruits, but they’re really good, so with the team we have this year, we can go to the top.”
The Stingers had a young team last season, with 13 first-year players on the roster, but still managed to make the playoffs. Hinse believes having one more year under their belt will make a big difference.
“Maturity is a big thing, especially in university hockey. It’s a fast game, there’s a lot of hitting,” he said. “So, if you’re not mature enough, you’re going to be scared and you’re not going to be good. With a year [of experience], you’re better.”
Hinse will be going into his third year in child studies at Concordia. As a francophone, going to an English school wasn’t a tough decision.
“Nowadays, you need English everywhere,” he said. “You need to speak in English everywhere, if you want a good job, if you want to travel, you need to know how to speak English.”
Hinse has plans to open his own daycare once he’s done school, and wants to teach the kids both English and French, while including sports in the program as well.
But Hinse is not giving up on his dream to play in the NHL just yet.
“I want to maybe go to Europe, to play a couple of years of professional hockey. If it all works out, maybe I’ll get a tryout to play in the AHL [the NHL’s farm system], because my dream is still to play in the NHL, that’s for sure. If I can get a tryout, why not? After that, I’m starting my daycare,” he said.
For now, you’ll find Hinse at the Ed Meagher Arena with the C on his chest, hoping to lead his Concordia Stingers to their second straight playoff berth.
Concordia’s first regular season game will be at Carleton on Oct. 3, before coming home and playing Carleton again for their home opener on Oct.10.