Hockey connects two distinct communities

Anthony Abbondanza
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Boys team from Kuujjuaq to follow in former teammate’s footsteps at Pierrefonds high school

Kujjuaq native Jeffrey Gordon moved to Montreal last year to pursue a career in hockey.

Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School (PCHS) has welcomed a hockey team of 16 boys from a native community in northern Quebec to an exhibition game today at the Sportplexe 4 Glaces Arena in Pierrefonds.

Natives to the small town of Kuujjuaq, a community of about 2,500 people, the boys will not only reconnect with former teammate Jeffrey Gordon, but also decide whether to adopt PCHS as their school going forward.

Dan Nathan, the school’s athletics director said he received an email from Kujjuaq Hockey, expressing interest in “getting a feel for a Montreal high school.”

“They want to see what it’s like. The hope is that they do come here because it would broaden their horizon and give them an opportunity to go further in hockey,” said Nathan.

Gordon is the prime example of that opportunity.

Knowing his chances of pursuing a hockey career were limited in Kuujjuaq, the 17-year-old moved to Pierrefonds in early 2013 following an agreement between Kuujjuaq Hockey, which at the time was run by Joe Juneau, a retired NHL player, and the school.

“Everyone here has been really helpful and I think I’ve grown up a lot,” said the Grade 10 student. “Moving to Montreal has made me more independent.”

And while he’s excelled off the ice, the chance to develop his skills in a hockey-crazed market hasn’t hurt, either. The 220-pound, six-foot-three-inches tall player has opened eyes not only on the PCHS Trojans or his Midget AA team, Deux Rives Dauphins, but several prep schools.

“Things have opened up for him to play hockey at a high level because of moving here,” said Nathan.

While Gordon is a “real success story,” Nathan said he hoped the school’s 16 honoured guests will look past the cultural difference between the two communities.

Between the sizable differences in classrooms, to notable differences in social interactions, to say the boys will experience a culture shock is an understatement.

Nevertheless, the benefits of attending a Montreal-area high school – and the perks that come with it – outweigh the costs of seeking a career in hockey in a small, northern Quebec community, sheltered from the spotlight.

“I'm really excited for them, it’s a great opportunity,” said Gordon. “It has opened doors for me.”

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Organizations: Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School, NHL, Grade 10

Geographic location: Pierrefonds, Montreal, Northern Quebec

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