The Cents had one of their most successful seasons in 30 years, and with that comes the unfortunate reality that some of the best players to don a Centennials crest will be leaving for the next step in their hockey careers in the NCAA. In the coming weeks we will give one final salute to the young men who served the Cents in the 2018/19 season.
Mathieu ‘The Goose’ Gosselin
Mathieu Gosselin played two full seasons in Merritt, and was able to grow into a complete player with great offensive upside. It took him a while to get his bearings in year one, but after half a season in the BCHL after getting accustomed to the speed of play he took major strides forward and possesses great offensive awareness, a wicked one-timer, and some slick hands to boot.
Before coming to the Centennials, Gosselin honed his craft in his home province of Quebec playing for the Seminaire St. Francois Blizzard and the Champlain St. Lawrence Lions. On both squads, as with the Centennials, he was leaned on for offence and put up 35 points (7 goals) in 44 games with Seminaire and 43 points (17 goals) in 36 games with the Lions.
Despite not having a lot in the size department, Director of Hockey Operations Brian Barrett says that he fits the mold of the new wave of player.
“I think in today’s game there’s been a bit of a changing of the guard in terms of philosophy. Mathieu fits that new style of player: he has speed, he has skill, and he has a good awareness in both zones.”
Gosselin mentions that he had a good feeling right from the get go with the Centennials.
“My first impressions were really positive. I loved the coaches that I worked with during my time in Merritt and the group of guys was incredible from the first day.”
In his two seasons with the Centennials, Gosselin proved he belonged in the fast paced BCHL. Despite coming in with little fanfare, he became a favourite of the coaching staff in year one and was able to prove himself capable enough to stay in the lineup on a regular basis. He suited up for 53 games in his rookie season, chipping in 11 goals and 22 assists. He quickly came to be known by his father’s nickname of Goose, and it is an apt description of Gosselin’s play as the high-flying winger wowed fans with his speed, hands, and wicked shot. Gosselin was named Most Promising Player at the Centennials year end awards, and he delivered as to why in year two.
Gosselin notes putting on some more muscle, and having a strong core returning as the reasons for his boost in offense in year two.
“My improvements from year 1 to 2 are related to my gain in strength over that year. Our team had a lot more offensive power compared to my first year and it helped me a lot. Also, moving from the wing to center helped me improve my offensive numbers.”
Having the confidence of a year in the league under his belt, Gosselin jumped out of the gates in the early goings of the season, and captured BCHL Player of the Week honors early. He was one of two Centennials to try out for Team Canada West, and he made the team capturing Bronze at the World Junior A Challenge along with Coach Joe Martin. He garnered a ton of interest from the NCAA, but ultimately decided to pursue a strong education at Clarkson University. Despite missing a few games because of the WJAC, Gosselin was able to put up 60 points (22 goals) in 53 games played.
Governor Barrett says that Gosselin really helped drive offense for the club this year.
“Mathieu was a force in the offensive zone over the season. He is good at gaining speed through the neutral zone that backs defenders off, and he knows how to make the most of that space. He can slide into lapses in coverage and set up for a shot, or he can make players miss with a deke.”
Gosselin says he’s much more confident in his speed in both senses because of his time in the BCHL and with the Centennials.
“Playing in the BCHL for two years improved my skating a lot because it is definitely one of the fastest junior A leagues, and playing in the tighter confines of the NVMA also improved my decision making speed.”
Next season Gosselin will play for the Clarkson University Golden Knights, and Barrett is excited to see Gosselin’s game evolve.
“We’ve seen Goose steadily progress in his time with the Centennials, and I see no reason why the story shouldn’t be the same at the next level.”
The thing that Gosselin will remember most is the special bond that he had in the room, and with the community.
“What I’ll remember most about the Cents’ organization is the special group of guys that we had and the special support that we had from the community of Merritt.”
As a member of the ECAC conference in the NCAA, Gosselin will suit up against former line mate Brad Cocca on Brown, and former Centennials leading scorer Zach Risteau. The Cents wish Gosselin and his family all the best as he moves forward with his career, and thenk them for their contributions to the Centennials organization.