December 5, 2021

The Queens County Citizen

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Alexis Gravel’s amazing journey

Alexis Gravel's amazing journey

How far do we go for professional hockey – or do we want to stick to it? Every minor league player questions himself at some point.


Simon-Oliver Lorenz

Simon-Oliver Lorenz
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Alexis Gravel has just arrived. And he reacted very clearly when faced with an unknown situation about his future. “It simply came to our notice then. ”

Recently released on ECHL by Allen Americans, the 21-year-old goaltender will open a new chapter in his life and career in the next few days. Less than two months after he rubbed his shoulders with Canadian players at the team training camp, he wore the Patriots de l’Unbeque du Troyes-Riviers (UQTR) uniform.

A short word to say that the previous Halifax Mooseheads have been busy for the last few weeks for QMJHL. He was invited to a Canadian rookie camp in mid-September on a trial contract and then attended main camp – “in the best shape of my life,” he said.

Photo by Martin Tremble, Press Archives

Alexis Gravel 9 (right) at the Canadians Rookie Camp.

Two weeks later, he reported to Laval Rocket in the American League, hoping to sign a contract there. However, the workforce in front of the net has already been completed not only in this team, but also in the Lions of Trois-Riviers branch of the ECHL. The disappointment was exacerbated for a man who was willing to play in Quebec for the first time after Bantam Rank.

Then came the call of the Americans. I’m going to Allen in Texas hoping to be there until Christmas. “Let’s see after that,” he said to himself.

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The experiment lasted only three weeks. With the unexpected return of the club’s first goalkeeper Antoine Bibu, there was a rush in the semi-circle. And it was hit by gravel. Return to Square One.

As ECHL operates within the weekly salary limit, some players may quickly become nomadic races. And Kubeser did not want this lifestyle.

“You can release or trade at any time, there is no stability,” he said over the phone. This is not an easy league, it is very open. I told myself: it doesn’t make sense to do this all my life. Go and study, spend three or four years with the Patriots. ”

Enthusiasm

Holding on to his dream of becoming a professional hockey player was not a decision Alexis Gravel made with a happy heart. However, he very enthusiastically took his turn towards university hockey.

Her sister is already studying at UQTR. His father, Franకోois Gravel, was also a goalkeeper and former Canadian third round pick in 1987, spending a season there before moving to Europe for a career in France, Germany (Alexis’ birthplace) and Italy.

Academically, first, Alexis got a taste of university in Halifax, where he had free student status. Describing himself as a student who struggled to achieve good grades, he will now pursue a bachelor’s degree in administration.

In hockey terms, he will be introduced to a caliber that clearly surprised him when he attended the Pots’ first local game last Sunday. “I can not believe it’s good hockey!

In fact, the flirtation between Gravel and the Patriots began in the summer. Went to visit campus and sports grounds. UQTR his “Plan A” if he plays in the College League. Because his real plan is to play for a professionals. What did not happen, but it will always happen later, you never know. “I’m going to score better at 24-25 than at 21,” he predicted.

It was also a happy acknowledgment of the circumstances that led to the vacancy in Trois-Rivieres, because Zachary Boutillier went the other way by finding a full-time job at ECHL.

On a personal level, finally, Alexis Gravel felt compelled to suppress his suitcases. He spent the first years of his life in Europe, depending on his father’s profession. After returning to Quebec for a few years, this time his mother’s job led to Mississauga playing in Ontario for senators. He played his entire junior career at Nova Scotia. During this time, he also attended two training camps for the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2018, but he never signed a contract with him.

Photo from Twitter account NHLBLACKHAWKS

Alexis Gravel with the Chicago Blackhawks

In Mauritius, he is close to his sister, his parents and his grandparents. “I realized how positive it was. I was really happy,” he said.

“I’m glad to start!”, He adds with a fever.

In Trois-Rivieres to stay there

Patriots head coach Mark-Etienne Hubert confirms this: his new player has been sent off. He will join his teammates in the next few days.

Of course, gravel is not the first in its situation. For 10 or 15 years, Hubert said, studies were very valuable in young hockey players. “Boys have this openness, they want to baccalaureate first while advancing towards professional ranks. It has evolved and is also the caliber of the league. It helps guys form their minds. ”

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He said he never saw the player come in with his head between his legs, despite the frustration of the tearing dream. “By default we don’t want guys coming here. ”

Alexis Gravel also categorizes: Wearing a Patriots jersey is not a consolation prize. An NHL entry contract could set him back, but nothing on the radar. Until further notice, he was a student-athlete.

I receive a two-way offer from the American League, which I will not accept.

Alexis Gravel

In Trois-Rivieres, he shares the net with Tristan Kot-Kazenov. He does not yet know what kind of workload awaits him. Truth be told, he doesn’t worry much.

“When they give me the net, I like to keep it. How it works. ”

The Patriots will play their next game on Friday while hosting the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.