Maine Hockey Journal

It takes a Champion to be a leader

Nicholas Champion looks to be the teacher for the goaltending corps of the Lewiston Maineiacs after spending more than a week as a student himself at Montreal Canadiens training camp.

“It was really a great experience, I had a really good time there,” said Champion on attending Canadiens’ training camp. “I think I improved as a goaltender, and I learned new things. I look to use them during the season.”

Head coach J.F. Houle is glad to have his overage goaltender back.

“(Champion) solidifies our goalies,” Houle stated. “Players will play with confidence in front of him. It’s nice to see him in practice.”

While in Montreal, Champion looked to improve all aspects of the position.

“I worked on all areas of the game; they are the best at what they do.” Champion said of the Canadiens’ coaching staff. “You can always learn from the other players that are there and take little things from their game to help your own.”

“It definitely gives me a good idea what I have to do to play at the next level.”

Jordan Kennedy hopes he can be the student and learn from Champion.

“It’s good, now he’s back, he can definitely help (Andrei) Makarov and myself’,” said Kennedy. “He can teach us and we will learn a lot.”

Houle expects Champion to teach the two 17-year old goalies.

“I think it’s important to have those veterans always help the young guys to come along. It’s very important for (Kennedy and Makarov) to develop the proper way and I think Champion is a good guy like that.”

Both Kennedy and Houle like the competitive atmosphere with three goalies in practice.

“Everybody wants to play, so it makes it hard, but that it should be that way,” stated Houle.

“When you are in practice and there are three goalies battling it out, you just want to work harder than them,” Kennedy added. “It’s not to be disrespectful, but you just want to battle it out to get a chance to dress.”

Balancing playing times is something Houle has to keep in mind especially dealing with goalies.

“It’s always tough with three goalies, you don’t know who’s going to dress, who’s not going to dress, to get mentally prepared,” said Houle. “It’s a big thing for goalies; the mental aspect is a big thing. You can’t play with that too much.”

“You got to make sure you let them know where they stand.”

Champion isn’t worried about going into a slump returning to juniors.

“It’s an adjustment, but I think I gained a lot of confidence at the NHL training camp. I feel confident coming back to juniors.”

Houle knows Champion can’t take a night off if he wants to get to the next level.

“You never know how well you do, if does real well (this) year, he could sign a contract,” added Houle. “You just never know.”

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