The Phoenix prepares for its return to the game
On hiatus for nearly a month, the Sherbrooke Phoenix will play three games in as many nights as of Wednesday in Abitibi.
Share November 2, 2020 10:33 p.m. Share The Phoenix is preparing for its return to the game
Sébastien Lajoie La Tribune SHERBROOKE – The Phoenix will be back in action this week, for the first time since an outbreak of COVID-19 cases put its season on hiatus a month ago. An arduous return, however, since the troop of head coach and GM Stéphane Julien will play three games in three nights, starting Wednesday, in Abitibi.
On Wednesday, the Phœnix will resume one of the games it had to cancel, facing the Foreurs in Val d'Or, before playing two games in two nights at the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Thursday and Friday. A heavy order for a team that has barely returned to the ice.
So far, in this somewhat special 2020-21 season, the Phœnix has played only two games, against Blainville-Boisbriand, two defeats.
The next two opponents of the Sherbrooke residents have played six games each so far.
“We're playing against two teams that haven't stopped since the start of the season. Our match timing will probably not be there. Physically, the guys are in good shape. But it will take us a while to find our bearings in matches. It will be a bit like during the preparatory matches, ”says Stéphane Julien.
In these conditions, difficult to have reasonable expectations and objectives, let's say, well established.
“It's hard to give players goals, there is so much uncertainty as to what format the current season will take. It's not hard to motivate guys though; last week, they gave themselves to training. But do we absolutely have to ask for a victory? I am not in that perspective, because we do not yet know if we are playing to play, or if we are playing for a championship ”.
“One thing is certain, we want to play well. We practiced a lot of individual things, in order to improve the guys. We are going to bet on a progressive return to the game so that the guys first put in a good effort, that they stay in the structure and that they offer good solid matches. “
Manage the crisis
The outbreak of COVID cases was confirmed in the Phoenix shortly after that seen in the Armada, its only opponent so far in season.
Stéphane Julien admits it; the last few weeks have been difficult for him and his team.
“It was okay . I found it hard when we had the outbreak. We are talking about teenagers who are in boarding school, whose parents are 200-300 km away, I found it hard, as administrator of the team. The young people also found it hard to stay in quarantine during this time, that is to say 14 days. But as soon as we got back to the Palace, everything was back to normal. We had a good week of practice last week. We are used to health protocols. For now, everything is okay. “
The Phoenix gradually returned to training, in two distinct groups.
“Only the guys who tested positive took further testing, lung, heart, and blood tests. That is why they were delayed for a week. We had incredible collaboration from Public Health in the Eastern Townships in this matter, ”says Stéphane Julien.
“Everyone is in good shape except Colin Ratt, who still has symptoms of fatigue after COVID. For the rest, everyone is back. “
Poulin and the future
A team that has not played for a month.
A season on hiatus in several regions of Quebec which are still in the red.
The constant uncertainty as to whether or not the season will unfold.
The probability of having to do without his best player for several weeks.
And still be waiting for his number one goalkeeper, still in Europe.
“We try to motivate ourselves internally, to have character, and to seek victories. It's really weird. Every day we have to revise our plan. Samuel Poulin is expected to be without for almost 60 days if he breaks into Team Canada roster. He is expected to leave for camp in Edmonton between November 12 and 16. It's still major, as a loss. Teams like Val d'Or and Chicoutimi are also in this situation, ”grumbles Stéphane Julien.
“But hey, this is not the first surprise this year. Can we get a good looking season going? We go out of our way for that. The QMJHL spares no effort, but at some point, we may have to realize that there are things that cannot be done. “
“Only during training camp, we canceled a game because we ran out of players. It's incredible! And there, we are at the same point as at the beginning of the year. Perhaps we should review some things. “