U Sports swept by Team Canada in exhibition series

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For most university hockey players, the second week of December signifies exams. But for eight former QMJHLers selected to the U Sports All-Stars, this week presented an opportunity to showcase their skills against Canada’s best junior hockey players. Derek Sheppard (Gatineau), Jordan Murray (Acadie-Bathurst, Drummondville), Martin Lefebvre (Quebec), Guillaume Asselin (Montreal, Chicoutimi), Olivier Hinse (Victoriaville, Quebec, Sherbrooke, Blainville-Boisbriand), Philippe Maillet (Victoriaville), Michael McNamee (Quebec, Sherbrooke), and Allain Saulnier (Moncton) all put their skillsets on showcase against Team Canada in a two-game mini-series. Former Chicoutimi Saugeneens coach Marc-Etienne Hubert served as an assistant coach on the U Sports All-Stars.

Team Canada walks away with two wins after securing a 5-3 victory on Monday night, and then a 3-0 shutout win on Tuesday afternoon. Despite the losses, both Murray and Maillet found the scoresheet, with Murray drawing an assist in game one, and Maillet adding a pair of points, including U Sports’ first tally in game one. It wasn’t the result U Sports was looking for, but their players have relished the opportunity to take a step away from school and play hockey on a larger stage than normal.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Guillaume Asselin of his experience. “To be with the guys and play with the guys you compete against all year is really fun for me.”

Guillaume Asselin is one of a few QMJHL players who have been producing at a rampant pace this season. After missing some time with injury, Asselin returned to score 12 goals in 10 games playing with the UQTR Patriotes. Leading the country in points is Allain Saulnier of the Moncton Aigles Bleus, with 33 through 18 games, Philippe Maillet of the UNB Varsity Reds is just one point behind him, and Michael McNamee is second in OUA scoring with 27 points in 18 games.

At the midway mark of the season, seven of U Sports’ top 10 scorers are QMJHL alumni, with Jean-Francois Plante (Univ. of Moncton), Alex Saulnier (Univ. of Moncton), and Pierre-Olivier Morin (UQTR) being among those seven despite not being on the U Sports All-Stars roster. Now with 14 days remaining until the FISU camp opens up on Dec. 27, players are given some time to themselves over Christmas. Time players like Guillaume Asselin intend to use to get ready for the second semester.

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