MONTREAL, FEBRUARY 9, 2017- Head coach Gianni Cantini and a number of players from the St. Léonard Arctic of the AAA Quebec Junior Hockey League will visit Pierre de Coubertin Elementary School (4700 Lavoisier) on Monday, February 13 (9 am) and Honoré-Mercier Elementary School (8280 Nantes) on Monday, February 20 (9 am) as part of a continued partnership with the English Montreal School Board.
The Arctic have a number of EMSB grads on their roster. Lina Di Giovanni, a long-time EMSB parent volunteer and vice-president/co-owner of the Arctic, says the players love the school visits. Her husband, Joe Perretta, is the co-owner and president. The team has an EMSB logo on their jerseys. They currently play their home games out of Fleury Arena (3700, rue Fleury Est) in Montreal North.
“Most of our students are now in CEGEP and studying really hard,” said Ms. Di Giovanni. “That is an important factor for us.”
At the school visits, the players are introduced. They each expand upon the importance of staying in school while playing hockey at a high level and then engage in a fun ball hockey scrimmage with the students. Mr. Cantini himself is a graduate of John Paul I and Laurier Macdonald High School.
“When Joe and I bought the team, we did so because we were so impressed by these hockey players, the determination and the dedication,” said Ms. Di Giovanni. “I had never seen anything like this before. These players practice three nights a week and play two to three games a week. To me they are like role models for us and for all the younger players who have a dream. They have been playing since the ages of four and five years old and are so disciplined. They chose the way of the sport, which of course helps them in school. They are not on the streets causing problems or whatever. We always have a game on Sundays, so they have a curfew on Saturday night - which is their only day off- and they have to be home by 10 pm to rest. If this is not discipline, I don't know what is. This is the AAA and for them it means a lot. Some will go on to the Quebec Major Junior League and some will just hang up their skates. This is why Joe and I bought the team; to give them an opportunity to fulfill their dreams, especially the anglophone and Italians, because they are not in demand in a big French league like this one and Joe and I believe that everyone deserves a chance.”
A special EMSB Day will take place on Sunday, February 26 (4 pm) when the Arctic host the Granby Inouk in their final regular season game. The team is currently in second place in the Alexandre Burrows Division and guaranteed a playoff spot.
Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213