This time of year brings monumental shifts throughout rosters across the league. A year ago, the Petes acquired an integral player to their offensive core via trade – right wing/centre Christopher Paquette.
To state that Chris hails from Victoria, BC is a simplified version of his journey to Peterborough, since he has seen more areas of Canada than most people do in a lifetime. Chris bopped between the West coast, Kingston, Halifax, then Niagara for his inaugural year in the OHL.
His nomadic upbringing is a result of his father Stephane’s involvement with the navy. As a child, he had the opportunity to play in rinks across the Maritimes, including Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Cape Breton. In fact, his hockey career began in a town whose reputation for producing world-class on ice talent precedes it’s name – Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. The town of 25,000 is birth place to the NHL’s Sidney Crosby and Nathan McKinnon.
His final days in minor hockey were with the Kingston Jr. Frontenacs, before being drafted by the IceDogs in 2nd round, 30th overall in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection. Chris would make his OHL debut that October.
Although fans often only see a change in the lineup come game time following mid-season trades, the reality for the young men is much more abrupt and involved. After a year and half with Niagara, where he held the role of alternate captain, Paquette transitioned to the Petes in exchange for goalie prospect Nate McDonald and picks.
“Obviously the hardest part is coming to a new team, a new role, new teammates, making new friends, trying to fit into a new system,” Chris noted. “I made friends really fast here in Peterborough.”
Undoubtedly, his transient lifestyle throughout his childhood eased the move.
Paquette was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2016, and coincidentally draws inspiration for his own game from another Pete and Tampa affiliate, Matt Spencer. The Petes alumnus and two-way defenseman signed an entry-level contract with the Bolts in 2016, and has since played 16 games for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. Although playing opposite positions, Chris notes Spencer’s approach to the game as his reason for admiration.
“I am inspired by his love of the game, you know – how he takes everything to heart about hockey, and he’s out there to compete and make himself look or be better,” Chris stated.
In addition to Matt, Chris draws inspiration from the work ethic of his father.
“He does everything with 100% effort, he never likes something that is not finished, whatever it is – even if its just for fun. He always asks me to do my best, work on little things.”
In terms of of play, Paquette appreciates Patrice Bergeron’s style, describing himself as someone who, “plays big, plays fast,” and uses his shot and size to his advantage.
Although at first impression Chris may appear all business, he is in fact the first one among the team to erupt in laughter if the scenario elicits it. His tremendous cackling is contagious, often igniting waves of laughter from the people around him. The fourth year player attributes the comedic tendencies of defenseman Matt Timms and former Pete Josh Coyle as cause for the frequent larger-than-life giggles.
Chris’ maturity is far beyond his age would imply, however, his joy for hockey and ability to find humour even when things are slightly unsteady is a reminder of how young he and his teammates are, in a league demanding adult expectations.
Catch Chris and the rest of the Petes in action in two home games this week – Thursday, January 18 vs. Kingston, and Saturday, January 20 vs. Oshawa. Game tickets are available starting at $8 through the Collins Barrow PMC Box Office, online or, by phone at (705) 743-3561.