BROOKFIELD, N.S. – Colby Lanceleve recently joined Remparts de Tours in the 13-team France Division 1 Hockey League, France’s second professional hockey league.
Contributing five points in his first four games, Lanceleve and the Remparts are tied for first place with a record of 11-2-1-2 for 38 points. Close behind the Remparts and Briancon (10-4-0-1) is Mulhouse with 36 points, while Anglet, with East Stewiacke’s Matt Brenton in its lineup, holds down fourth place with 30 points.
A hard-working forward and dedicated team player during four seasons with Truro Bearcats of the Maritime Hockey League, Lanceleve played locally from 2011 to 2015. During that period, the Bearcats reached the Kent Cup finals three years in a row, they won the Kent Cup and a Fred Page Cup with Lanceleve in their lineup.
The 2015-16 season was spent with Plymouth State Panthers in NCAA Division 3 hockey in the United States. Lanceleve played a key role as the Panthers went to the conference finals before losing to Salem State.
This season – the challenge of playing professional hockey in Europe lured Lanceleve.
“I started the season in the MOL Liga, which is based mainly in Hungary with teams also in Romania and Serbia,” Lanceleve, 22, said. “My team was HSC Csikszereda in Romania. I enjoyed my time in the league but an opportunity came up to begin a new experience in France. I felt it was the best decision for me personally.”
Tours is a city with a population of 130,000, located in central France, a few hours south of Paris.
“The hockey may be just a bit faster pace than playing junior A in Canada,” the Inverness native who grew up in Stewiacke, said. “The consistency of all the teams has impressed me; players are a little more mature compared to players I played against in the past. The rinks are bigger than I was accustomed to in Canada, but this is a transition I’ve enjoyed so far. We’ve played before good-sized crowds in the vicinity of 900 to 1,000.
“I’ve got to go to some big cities but mostly it’s right to the rink and you don’t get to see as much as you would like. When I was playing in Romania, I went on two road trips to Serbia and Budapest. I recall Budapest as being a beautiful city, Serbia was not so well kept.”
Lanceleve shared regarding language differences.
“Living in a smaller city, I’ve been getting by quite well,” he said. “The language barrier hasn’t been nearly as bad as I expected. People I’ve gotten to know, they have been great, they are friendly and understanding, they have helped me get by.”
Experiences have been huge for Lanceleve and one experience I wanted to ask the dedicated forward (eight goals and 14 assists to date in this his first pro season) about, was playing the first half season under Tom McCarthy, the former NHL star.
McCarthy, with 178 NHL goals and 221 assists in 460 games, had a 39-goal season with Minnesota North Stars and scored 30 goals with Boston Bruins. Coaching in recent years in Ontario junior A hockey, McCarthy handled the Huntsville Otters.
“Playing for Tom McCarthy with HSC Csikszereda was a fantastic experience,” Lanceleve told me. “On the ice, Tom was always trying to help players. Tom helped us with little things and he helped us with good life advice as well. I was very fortunate to learn from Tom every day for about three months. More importantly, it was really great becoming friends with such a good person.”
Part of a jubilant hockey family, Lanceleve’s father Lou Lanceleve is a coach with Pictou County Weeks Major Midgets, his mother Marie has made many sacrifices for sports, and brothers Carson and Reid play for Weeks Major Midgets and Colchester Junior C Colts, respectively.
“Growing up, our house revolved around hockey in the winter and fastpitch ball in the summer,” Colby said. “Thanks to our mom and dad – the three of us kids have been able to play both sports every season since we were old enough to hold a stick or a bat. Because of our parents, we kids have had amazing opportunities in sports.”
Tonight, you might call it ‘Hockey night in France,’ as Lanceleve and Remparts de Tours play at Caen.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.