Rimouski's Fortier is used to adversity

Ryan Pyette, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:28 PM ET

Rimouski captain Olivier Fortier only played in 29 regular-season games this season.

“I hurt my knee,” the Oceanic forward and Montreal Canadiens draft pick said. “It was just one of those things where there was a loose puck and I was going for it and the goalie came out to poke it and he went down (to dive for it) and I ran into him.”

The goalie was Drummondville’s Marco Cousineau, who played for Baie-Comeau at that time before being traded to the Quebec league champion Voltigeurs. The injury cost Fortier three months of this Memorial Cup season.

“I had crutches, I had to be off my knee for two months,” the 20-year-old from Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec said. “My leg (muscles) got smaller from not doing anything. I was able to get some of the size back but not like it was before.

“It was a long time before I could work out.”

That’s nothing compared to what he and his mates have gone through in the past month. Last night’s Memorial Cup opener against Kelowna was the Oceanic’s first game in 23 days.

“We’re a pretty tight group,” Fortier said. “We saw each other a lot while we waited for this (tournament) to come. We had a lot of injuries and the three weeks have given us the time for those to heal. Some other teams that kept playing (Quebec champ Drummondville, in particular) are not as lucky.”

The Oceanic roster underwent a mid-season overhaul. They added veterans like forward Logan MacMillan from the Halifax Mooseheads and Marc-Andre Bourdon of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

“The guys we brought in were captains of their teams, veteran players, so they knew how to fit in right away,” Fortier said. “We didn’t have to do anything special with guys like that. We all know what we have to do on the ice.”

Rimouski head coach Clement Jodoin brings a lot of experience to the equation. He runs his practices without holding a hockey stick.

“My job is not to push the puck, there are others for that,” he said. “That’s what I did in the NHL. I’m here to observe, to watch.”

Jodoin is the coaching elder statesmen here. Kelowna coach Ryan Huska is only 32-years-old but has participated in a record seven Memorial Cup tournaments — three wins as a player with the Kamloops Blazers and a 2004 victory in three previous trips as a Rockets assistant.

Kelowna is at the Cup for the fourth time in seven years. But they went winless in their last trip to London in 2005.

“Each year is its own different thing,” Kelowna defender Tyson Barrie said, “but when something comes up, he (Huska) will give us an example of something that he’s seen from the past.”


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