Two local hockey players were awarded $1,500 bursaries from the Montreal Canadiens Bursary Program within the Quebec Foundation for Athletic Excellence last Wednesday at a press conference before the Habs’ game against Detroit.
Lac St. Louis Lions right-winger and Dorval native Anthony De Luca and Île Bizard native Catherine Daoust who plays for the Lac St. Louis women’s Midget AA team won athletic excellence bursaries.
The cheques were presented to them by none other than current Habs’ captain Brian Gionta prior to the Canadiens’ 7-2 victory over Detroit. All in all, the Canadiens distributed 28 bursaries to deserving teens of the Midget AAA league, the men and women’s Midget AA leagues and the Midget Espoir league. It was quite a contrast in the conference room of the Bell Centre as many recipients surpassed the diminutive Habs captain who handed them the cheques.
“All of those players are midget and everyone was bigger,” laughed Brian Gionta during a scrum after the conference. “It’s nice to see the young people coming through, they’re elite athletes. Obviously, education is important so it’s nice to see the Canadiens take part in this. I can remember back to my days, trying to make a decision on colleges and where to go and where to play. I know what they’re going through right now,” he said.
Following on the footsteps of last year Lac St. Louis bursary winners such as Anthony Duclair and Michael Matheson, De Luca has stepped up his game this year and is currently leading the league in scoring with 69 points in 39 games. For him, it was quite an honour to receive a bursary from the Montreal Canadiens’ organization.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet everyone and just be here and meet all the great athletes. It’s just a fun environment,” he said before commenting on his success on the ice this season. “The coaches don’t talk about roles, they just tell me to play my game. When I’m on the ice, I do the best I can and I think that’s what been helping me this year. Having a lot of confidence in me has really helped me a lot too,” he said.
As for Catherine Daoust, she plays in the Lac St. Louis women’s Midget AA league and on top of her achievements on the ice, she earned a 88.9 per cent average in the fall semester at Regina Assumpta College high school. Daoust watches the Habs’ game on television but she had never had the chance to see a Canadiens’ player face-to-face. The experience was a spirit-lifter for her. She has big plans for the future in terms of hockey.
“I hope to play one day for Team Canada. I will play for Cégep St. Laurent next year and then I plan on playing at the university level too,” she said.