Felix Trudeau’s freshman season didn’t get off to the start he wanted.
The University of Maine hockey right winger got slashed in a 1-0 exhibition win over the University of Prince Edward Island on Oct. 1, and he suffered a broken finger. He missed the first five games of the campaign.
But he has been making up for lost time since his return, notching two goals and three assists in his first seven games. All five points have come in the past four games, and he had two assists in the 5-1 win over American International College of Massachusetts on Saturday.
The 20-year-old is one of the newcomers expected to provide offense to a program that has been goal-starved for years. He has found himself on the team’s top scoring line with points leader Lynden Breen (six goals, three assists) and No. 2 scorer Ben Poisson (one goal and seven assists. Both are assistant captains who have been linemates for several years.
“He should be a real good power forward in this league someday. We’ll see how fast that happens,” UMaine second-year head coach Ben Barr said of Trudeau. “He’s going to get bigger and stronger over time here. He still does some freshman things, but he has a real high ceiling.”
Barr singled out Trudeau’s ability to shoot the puck, but he said Trudeau needs to get shots off quicker and keep moving his feet after shots, something he has improved upon already this season. He has put 17 shots on net through his first seven games.
Trudeau is a proven scorer at every level, including last season for the West Kelowna Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League, where he had 27 goals to go with 34 assists in 49 regular season games and 4 more goals and 10 assists in 12 playoff games. He scored 43 goals in 71 games at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, New York, during the 2019-20 season.
“We want him to shoot a little more. He has been trying to get the puck to [Poisson] and me a little too much,” Breen said. “He is a tremendous player. He has so much potential.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Trudeau said having Breen and Poisson as linemates “has helped a lot.” He added that being able to contribute to the first line has helped his confidence.
“He has a lot of skill, he’s good with the puck and he sees the ice well,” Poisson said. “He really fits in with me and Breen.”
Trudeau, who is from the Montreal suburb of Terrebonne, Quebec, verbally committed to UMaine three years ago.
He liked the fact that the late UMaine head coach Red Gendron and Ben Guite, Gendron’s top assistant, spoke French, and that home was just five hours away. Gendron collapsed and died on April 9, 2021.
After Guite’s short interim coaching stint, Barr was named to lead the program. Barr called the recruit about a week after taking the job and the two clicked right away, Trudeau said.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Trudeau said.
He added that the six weeks the team spent together doing optional workouts was helpful. The intense practices involving a lot of three-on-three battles in a limited space have aided their development.
“You get stronger when you are going up against older guys,” Trudeau said. “All of us freshmen are way better now than we were.”
UMaine travels to Vermont for Hockey East games at 7 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m Saturday. Trudeau said he is looking forward to the weekend because Terrebonne is just 113 miles from Burlington, so family and friends will be making the trek to the Gutterson Fieldhouse.
He said scoring a season-high five goals against AIC will give UMaine a boost entering the series.
“Our confidence is higher now,” Trudeau said.