The Cobras de Terrebonne have slithered their way into the Centennial Cup for the first time in six years.
How did they do it? Well, they had a fantastic regular season, winning 42 of 48 games. The Cobras also led the Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec (LHJAAAQ) in goals for (287) and goals against (109) and had a lethal power play that had a nearly 40 per cent conversion rate. And with only six losses all year, Terrebonne finished 18 points clear of the next closest team to capture first overall, which meant it got a first-round bye in the LHJAAAQ playoffs.
“It is the depth and resilience of the team that made the difference,” says long-time Terrebonne head coach and general manager Robert Dubuc.
One of the big reasons for the Cobras’ success has been their tremendous depth. They had six players record more than 50 points, with Steven Fournier (86 points) and Anthony Di Cesare (81 points) finishing one-two in the league.
Terrebonne also benefited from the sensational play of 20-year-old netminder Alexandre Marchand. The Trois-Rivières, Que., native, who has spent time in the QMJHL, finished the regular season with a league-leading 30-1-0-1 record. His goals-against average (2.08) and save-percentage (.929) also topped the LHJAAAQ.
"We acquired him from Gatineau last year where he was facing a lot of shots. Our goalie coach has worked really hard with him on his mental side,” says Dubuc. “Alexandre is so responsive and committed. He’s always very prepared for practices and games and all his successes are well deserved. By Christmas, he hadn’t lost a game yet. He won a few games by himself this season."
Although the Cobras had a great regular season, the playoffs are often a different animal.
"Everybody thought we were going to win our playoff games easily,” says Dubuc.
But that’s not exactly what happened, at least not at first. In the quarterfinals, Terrebonne got by Joliette in four games, but the series could have easily gone longer. Three of the four were decided by a single goal, two of them overtime finishes.
After downing Princeville in a physical semifinal series that went five games, Terrebonne took on second-ranked Cégep Beauce-Appalaches in the final. After going back-and-forth for seven games, the Cobras captured their first NAPA Cup in six years with a 6-2 win in Game 7.
"It's the depth and resilience of the team that made the difference,” Dubuc says.
HOW THEY GOT TO PORTAGE
Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec
Quarterfinal: defeated Joliette 4-0 (3-2 OT, 2-1 OT, 7-2, 3-2)
Semifinal: defeated Princeville 4-1 (4-0, 3-1, 3-4 OT, 7-3, 3-0)
LHJAAAQ championship: defeated Beauce-Appalaches 4-3 (7-3, 2-4, 6-1, 4-3 OT, 3-2, 6-2)
Record (W-L-OTL-SOL): 42-5-1-0 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Goals for: 287 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Goals against: 109 (1st in LHJAAAQ)
Power play: 80 of 216 (37% – 1st in LHJAAAQ)
Penalty killing: 199 of 229 (86.9% – 1st in LHJAAAQ)
Longest winning streak: 19 (Oct. 28-Jan. 8)
Top 3 scorers:
• Steven Fournier – 36G 50A 86P (1st in LHJAAAQ)
• Anthony Di Cesare – 30G 51A 81P (2nd in LHJAAAQ)
• Loïc Gibeault – 30G 40A 70P (8th in LHJAAAQ)
Goals for: 65
Goals against: 35
Power play: 20 for 65 (30.8%)
Penalty killing: 8 of 55 (85.5%)
Top 3 scorers:
• Anthony Di Cesare – 16G 14A 30P
• Zachary Cardinal – 5G 16A 21P
• Steven Fournier –8G 12A 20P
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2017 – Cobras de Terrebonne | 3rd place | 2-2 | 10GF 15GA
Nikolas Hurtubise – Concordia University (2023-24)
CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS
Sept. 26 – 13th
Oct. 9 – 13th
Oct. 16 – 8th
Oct. 24 – 3rd
Oct. 31 –5th
Nov. 7 – 9th
Nov. 14 – 5th
Nov. 21 – 3rd
Nov. 28 – 3rd
Dec. 5 – 3rd
Dec. 12 – 2nd
Dec. 19 – 2nd
Jan. 9 – 2nd
Jan. 16 – 2nd
Jan. 23 – 1st
Jan. 30 – 2nd
Feb. 6 – 2nd
Feb. 13 – 4th
Feb. 20 – 4th
Feb. 27 – 4th
March 6 – 3rd