Forward Julien Nantel has signed with the Trois-Rivières Lions for their upcoming inaugural season in the ECHL. For Nantel it is a return to playing professional hockey after taking last season off to study finance for the year. “I was waiting for a contract with the delay in the start of the season so I decided to train and do a little schooling,” Julien Nantel said. “The contract offer wasn’t quite there so I decided to do more schooling and keep training knowing I could go back to playing this year.”
For Nantel it is an opportunity to help establish the new franchise and play close to home allowing his family and friends to see him play. “When I decided to play hockey this year the Lions were my first choice,” Nantel said. “When I saw this summer they were signing a lot of good Quebec guys it was really obvious for me to come here. This is the first time I’ll get to play close to home and I can have my family watch me play more often.”
He also has the chance to be called up to the Rocket and that would be a homecoming for the Laval native playing on Place Bell ice. “That would be huge,” he said. “When I saw the team arrived in Laval a few years ago it was in my heart that I wanted to play there.
What fans will get to see from Nantel in game play is, “I’m an energy guy,” he said. “I think I have close to a point a game average in my career in the ECHL. I can be offensive, I can be a powerplay guy, I can be a PK (penalty kill) guy, I have good speed and I finish my checks.”
The 24-year-old is a former 7th round pick, 204th overall, of the Colorado Avalanche who came through the Hockey Laval system, including with the Bantam AA Senateurs and the Midget AAA Laval-Montreal Rousseau Royal. His time with the Rousseau Royal included a Jimmy-Ferrari Cup win and playoff MVP kudos plus a spot in the Telus Cup in 2012-2013.
Nantel played four seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League logging 142 points in 188 games in the Q. He enjoyed post-season success at that level in the 2015-2016 campaign as the Huskies claimed the President’s Cup and the opportunity to experience the Memorial Cup.
As a professional, Nantel has played 191 games in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage and 77 in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles. As a member of the Eagles Nantel was part of the back-to-back Kelly Cup Championship squads won in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. Julien is a big addition to our team,” Lions’ general manager Marc-André Bergeron said. “He has produced and has been an impact player wherever he has played in the past. Julien has proven he is a winner by becoming a champion in three different leagues.”
Havong been away from the game has fueled his passion to play. “When you don’t play for a year you really want to play hockey,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really fun for me, I’ve been training hard this summer and I’ll be ready.”