19 Teams in 19 Days – Gatineau Fusion

Another season is underway and as teams hit the ice in their quest for the 2011-2012 NRL Championship title, we’re taking a closer look at each team in the league. The new series is called 19 Teams in 19 Days and we would like to encourage you to join in the discussion on Twitter by following www.twitter.com/nrllnr or by sending us an email at NRLchatter@nationalringetteleague.ca

Gatineau Fusion

Last season finish:
Regular season – 9th place Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference playoffs – lost 2-0 to Ottawa

Head coach: Andre Huneault
Two questions with coach Huneault:
What would it mean to you, as a coach, to win the NRL championship this season?
To win the NRL Championship as a coach…
It is the satisfaction of knowing you have been doing something right.
It is the result a team work, including work ethics and sacrifice.
It is allowing several players to reach a childhood dream.

What does your team have to do to win an NRL championship?
For the Fusion, the secret of victory is the team’s synergy. Thanks to the arrival of several new young players, the Fusion is a very young team. Our goal is to unify this talented group so that their participation will create a very efficient game system, which is dominant and feared in the league. The Fusion must believe in its own potential, and as far as the rest is concerned, it will be easy to maintain our course.

The NRL nugget to know about this team:
The Fusion have become a much more diverse team with more players coming from Ontario and this year, from New Brunswick. The Fusion have Lindsay Sheehan on board after she played for the Atlantic Attack at the NRL Championship last season, and have six Ontarians on their roster this season. With their foundation still coming from Gatineau, the team is building out a more diverse roster and leaving no stone unturned in looking for players.

The question to be answered:
Can this team win in the second half of the season? For two years in a row, the Fusion have started strong only to falter down the stretch. The Fusion have to start strong again, but they must maintain that level of performance through the season. Their starts in each of the last two years have shown that this team can compete in the Eastern Conference.

What happened in the off-season:
The Fusion added two players coming out of the Canada Winter Games program – Lindsay Sheehan played for New Brunswick and Natalie Crouch for Ontario. As they are both defenders, these additions can really strengthen a position that can never be too strong in the NRL.

The (hidden) gem:
Over her career, Marie Eve D’Aoust has played for Ottawa and now Gatineau. The Fusion’s veteran leader has been around the league and has scored where ever she has been. Her experience in the league will be vitally important for this still very young group.

Reason for optimism:
At times, this team has shown it is right there with the rest of the league and can compete for a berth at the NRL Championship. That history, with a few key off-season additions, are reason to think this team might make some noise this season.

Reason for concern:
In each of the past two seasons, the Fusion were in the driver’s seat to capture a playoff spot at the mid point of the season. In each case they have faltered, going a total of six wins and 28 losses in games played after the Christmas break. The good news here though is that the Fusion know the problem they need to fix this season.