Chris St-Pierre

For The Community Press

Having just celebrated his 17th birthday on November 23rd, Kapuskasing Flyers ex-goalie Sébastien Plamondon has finally found the key to unlocking his potential at the Junior level.

Instead of donning Flyers’ colors for his final season of Midget AAA hockey, he decided to try his hand as an under-ager in the NOJHL with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians.

On December 9th, he blanked the league leading Sault St. Marie Thunderbirds in a 1-0 shootout win during which he stopped 26 shots. His excellent performance earned him the third star of the week.

Plamondon currently leads the league in saving percentage (.929%) and goals against average (2.09) while maintaining an eight-win, two-loss and two-shutout record. He has surpassed many big names like Timmins Rock netminder Tyler Masternak and Hearst Lumberjacks number one Nic Tallarico.

Sébastien believes many aspects of his game allow him to stand on top of the mountain.

“Honestly, it’s about focus. You have to be ready for every practice. You can’t arrive to the rink and expect a day off. You have to work hard and be prepared for the next game. Defensively, my teammates are really good in our zone. Shots often come from the outside which makes my job easier,” he explained.

The Hearst native is also showing a greater maturity that he says he learned this summer during the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques training camp.

“Their goalie coach showed me how to better control my emotions after a goal or a bad penalty,” he said. “Usually, I get mad easily. He taught me ways to move on quickly. It really helped me manage my short-term memory.”

The Olympiques were interested in his services, but they ended up cutting him after a few days of camp. They told Plamondon to go back up north to gain some experience at the Junior level. Initially, it was tough to adapt to the speed of play, forcing him to sharpen his senses in order to follow the action.

“The execution is very different from the Midget AAA level,” he explained. “In Midget, guys will receive pucks and look up a little. But in Junior, the players already know what they want to do with the puck before even getting it on their stick. It was harder for me to anticipate the play at first.”

Believe it or not, Plamondon almost came back to Kapuskasing. But when he saw the young group proudly skating with a Flyers jersey on their back, he knew the team was in good hands and was going to be dangerous for the next few seasons.

For now, he plans to focus on the second half of the RB Canadians season.

“We’re hoping to move up in the standings and grab the top spot,” he commented. “The goal is to make the playoffs and I think we have the right team to do it. Even between the pipes, my teammate David Bowen is doing fantastic work. Hopefully we can go far in the post-season this year.”

Plamondon is part of a tight race for the John Grignon Award, given annually to the NOJHL’s best rookie. So far, French River Rapids forward Philippe Daoust leads the pack with 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points in as many games. Among goalies, Kirkland Lake’s Gregory Brassard is close to the top with 13 wins, three losses and a shutout.