As SPHL’s youngest player, Louis-Jean de Storm enjoys playing time | Hockey Storm Quad-City
Although he is the youngest player in the SPHL, Darick Louis-Jean shows maturity beyond his years.
After spending much of his first professional season shuttling between the SPHL and primarily a bench spot in the ECHL, Louis-Jean – who turned 21 on December 7 – decided the best thing for his future was to spend the rest of the season with the Quad City Storm, forgoing any future call-ups and helping the Storm prepare for their first playoff appearance in franchise history.
“We have a pretty good team and a pretty good chance of winning a championship,” said Louis-Jean. “We have good chemistry, a great group, that’s why I want to stay here. I feel comfortable and I can play a lot too.
After three seasons of junior hockey, Louis-Jean began his rookie season in the ECHL with the Trois-Rivières Lions, an expansion team about 90 miles from Montreal, Louis-Jean’s hometown.
However, despite spending almost three months with the team, he only played 11 out of 24 games. no longer saw Ice again and was released on January 15.
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“Not playing was difficult but what helped calm me down is that I’m young, I still have time,” he said. “I was just learning from older guys and learning stuff. So not playing wasn’t something that really bothered me.”
The Storm were excited to add the 6-foot-1 defenseman and he made a quick impression on the coaching staff, catching a red eye in Chicago and driving to reach the Quad-Cities in time to play. against the Peoria Rivermen. January 28.
“The video we shot of him we loved and thought would be a huge addition to our roster, especially at the back as we strengthen for the playoffs,” the coach- chef Dave Pszenyczny. “He’s a big physical presence, he can move the puck. It will only get better.
“He’s coachable and I think that’s really huge in today’s game and for being so young.”
Louis-Jean only played two games with the Storm before the Iowa Heartlanders signed him to an ECHL contract on Feb. 5.
Again, despite spending a month in Coralville, Louis-Jean played three out of 10 games, including six straight absences before returning to the Storm.
This kind of use can make it difficult for any player to improve, especially if it’s their first professional season.
“For a young boy to improve, he needs playing time,” Pszenyczny said.
“You can’t do much in training to improve, but when you go out on the ice and play against different teams and different systems, your reactions have to be faster and better, and not only that, playing more gives you have more confidence to bring out the best in you When you’re not playing and you’re thrown into the lineup, and if you’ve been knocked out healthy, you mess up once, you sit there and you’re conscious about it and now you can’t play to your full potential.”
With only 15 games under his belt in his first year as a professional, Louis-Jean realized his best chance to play longer was with the Storm. When Trois-Rivières extended another call-up opportunity after the Storm’s March 5 home game against Evansville — Louis-Jean’s first game from Iowa — he declined to report.
“After playing that game I loved it, we won, I loved the atmosphere and I looked at the coaches and said I wanted to stay here,” said Louis-Jean.
Now Louis-Jean is finally able to settle into a groove. He has played in six consecutive games – his longest streak since December – and had three assists in that span. In eight games with the Storm, he has four assists and even plays hockey in the over/under column.
“Here I can develop my game, develop my art. My goal is not the ECHL, it’s to go even higher than the ECHL,” he said. “I felt like I could improve and get more ice time here. This league is a good league, it’s not a bad league and I think in the ECHL if I did something wrong I would sit on the bench. Here they let me play, I see myself getting better here and next year I know I can go even higher.”
Pszenyczny believes that goal is definitely within reach after this season. He experienced significant growth, even during the limited time Louis-Jean spent with the team.
“I don’t see him in our league next year,” Pszenyczny said. “(His cap) is just what he wants it to be. He might need a chance here and there, and he might need to know some people…but he’s committed and he’s ready to do this. that he wants even if the odds are stacked against him and we know that in our lives they are the scariest people.”
To contrast his youth, Louis-Jean was paired with Cody Walsh and Dillon Fournier – Walsh, a five-year SPHL veteran and Fournier a former NHL draft pick who spent time in the AHL and ECHL. They have been crucial to its growth over the past month.
“I just help myself with the little details, like how to position myself, easier ways to play hockey,” said Louis-Jean. “Don’t make it difficult for me, so little things like bending my knees so I can be strong on my legs, doing a little pass instead of skating if a striker is in front of you, just ways to save money. energy.”
With only three games played at the TaxSlayer Center, Louis-Jean hasn’t had much time to impress Storm fans and there aren’t many chances left. The Storm’s regular season home finale is Saturday against Peoria, and then there’s the playoffs.
“It’s just a small glimpse of what I can do, and I can see it too,” Louis-Jean said. “I see I have a great future, all I have to do is work hard and be disciplined and go for it.”