Former Weeks Crushers goalie Brandon Thibeau makes a save during a game against the Truro Bearcats last season. Recently he finalized that he will be in a backup role next season with the UdeM Aigles Bleus men’s hockey team.
MONCTON – If Brandon Thibeau didn’t have a Moncton checklist to start his hockey career you wouldn’t know it.
Come September the Riverview native and former Weeks Crushers goalie will suit up for the last possible high-level hockey team he can play for in the city.
Thibeau played for the Moncton Flyers (midget AAA), Dieppe Commandos, Moncton Wildcats and in the fall will become a member of the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus.
It was a possibility that Thibeau and the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) squad have been discussing since the fall of 2013. He said the discussion has always been centred on what would work best for their team and if his playing with them was something that would actually happen.
“I loved my time in Pictou County, was treated really well and had a great time with my billets (Dexter and Karen Megeney) there and they made it easy for me to live away from home,” he said. “But as far as coming home it’s awesome because my family is all here, my girlfriend (Janik Robichaud) lives here and we’ll be able to live together, so everything just fell into place for me to come back to Moncton.
“It’s definitely a nice homecoming being able to play for the last team I’m able to play with in Moncton.”
In a little under two seasons with Pictou County he played in 98 regular season and playoff games. In his first year (2012-13) he had a 3.54 GAA and 0.900 save percentage in 36 regular season games before a 2.55 GAA and 0.925 save percentage in nine playoff games.
During his the 2013-14 season, his first full year as a Crusher, he played 43 games. He lowered his GAA to 2.72 and improved his save percentage to 0.917.
“Jason (Malone) and everyone were very good to give me my space as far as my goaltending role went,” said Thibeau. “Jason was always very respectful of letting me do my own thing and find my own path. He wouldn't meddle with my goaltending ways or whatever you want to call it. Then of course being away from home for the first time my billets made me a lot more comfortable with a lot of different situations – so that time there (in Pictou County) definitely did a lot for me.”
Joining the UdeM program in the fall he will be the younger of their two goalies, coming into a backup role behind Adrien Lemay. Lemay played 21 of 28 games for the Aigles Bleus last season, finishing with a 10-11-0 record in the regular season. He posted a 3.27 GAA and 0.897 save percentage.
“He has been there for a few years and has played pro hockey, so as far as a role on the team I’ll have to fight for every minute of playing time that I get and try to push him and earn my respect in the league.”
Now a 21-year-old, Thibeau said to be able to push Lemay he needs to be prepared to come opening day. With a short AUS season game-wise he said he has been working with his goalie coaches to have him as ready as possible for when the team starts skating together.
“You’re playing with men now, not boys, so you have to make sure you’re up to par with their strength, quickness and all of that,” said Thibeau.
Moncton wasn’t the only school he said he looked at, both academically and athletically. A psychology major and biology minor, he is focused on receiving a science degree. By doing so he hopes to keep as many doors open in the field of science as possible.
“I spoke to three or four other schools and looked at some options, but this one made more sense and they showed the most interest,” he said. “As far as that goes it was a pretty easy decision for me and my schooling.”
Having attended games as a kid he said it is an honour to have the opportunity to wear an Aigles Bleus jersey.
“It’s a huge honour and knowing goalies that have played there in the past it’s very nice to be put in the same jersey as those goalies – there’s been a lot of good players come through there too,” he said. “As far as academics I know it’s a great school and the program I want to take they have a very good program. It’s definitely an honour to be able to go.”
Past stories with Thibeau:
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris