Hockey player Antoine Laganiere ’13 has a presence on the ice that is hard to miss. The 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound forward is already leading the team in scoring this season with five goals and an assist for a total of six points in four games.
Laganiere scored three goals in the Bulldogs’ (2–1–1, 1–1–0 ECAC ) opening weekend at the Ivy League Showcase on Oct. 26 and 27, in addition to two goals against Dartmouth last Friday.
“I can’t say I’m doing anything differently than before,” Laganiere said. “I don’t want to say that it’s luck, but let’s just say that I’m having one of those stretches where everything is going well.”
This early-season success is not a surprise from the Ile Cadieux, Quebec native. During his junior year, he placed second on the team with 19 goals, and in his first season with the Bulldogs, he led the freshmen with seven goals.
Known to his teammates as “Lags,” Laganiere is a big, strong and fast forward who has a great shot, team captain Andrew Miller ’13 said.
“He uses his speed and long reach to get himself into good position to shoot and has a great release and accurate shot,” defenseman Colin Dueck ’13 said.
“[Laganiere] is such an intense competitor,” forward Jesse Root ’14 said. “Whether it’s a mini game in practice or a playoff game you know he’s going to do everything he can to win. He protects the puck so well and it’s nearly impossible to play him defensively.”
Miller said he thinks opposing teams make a special effort to match Laganiere during games because of his talent, speed and size.
Laganiere said he first started skating when he was around three years old and took to ice hockey soon after. He said his three older brothers played hockey in Quebec and introduced him to the game. Laganiere added that he has always played forward.
After youth hockey in his hometown, at the age of 15, he started playing in the Quebec Midget AAA circuit for the Chateauguay Patriots. Despite being a rookie in the league, he finished with 26 points in 44 regular season games and 21 points in the 19 playoff games it took to win the provincial title. At the end of that season, Laganiere first thought he could play at the next level. Though he openly stated he wanted to go to college, Quebec Major Junior teams still contacted him and eventually drafted him. In the fifth round of the 2006 QMJHL entry draft, Rimouski Océanic — the same major junior team NHL All-Star Sidney Crosby played for — selected Laganiere.
But Laganiere stuck with his decision to attend college. His decision led him to Deerfield Academy, where he knew he could continue both his intellectual development and advancement as a hockey player at a high level.
“He is a real student of the game,” Deerfield head coach Brendan Creagh said. “I remember having a lot of conversations with him about the systems we were using. He is one of those guys that thinks the game as well as plays it.”
An impact player from the start, Laganiere said his tenacity was the key to his success at Deerfield according to Creagh. In his first season, Laganiere put up 38 points in just 25 games. The competitive and high-scoring forward quickly attracted college interest while at Deerfield and soon made a commitment to play for Yale.
“I knew the coaches really loved him,” Creagh said. “It was great to know he was going someplace where he would make an impact.”
Entering his last season of collegiate hockey play as a Bulldog, Laganiere said he hopes to sign a professional contract with the NHL or AHL at the end of the 2012-’13 season. He is currently a free agent, but he was invited to an Edmonton Oilers training camp this past summer in Edmonton, Alberta, for newly drafted Oilers and a few unsigned college hockey players. Laganiere described the camp as a “crash course for new professional hockey players,” involving intense training as well as presentations on proper nutrition and media interactions.
The Bulldogs will next compete Friday against Clarkson.