Zachary Morin, the 16-year-old Quebecer who turns heads with the Detroit Little Caesars

Zachary Morin, the 16-year-old Quebecer who turns heads with the Detroit Little Caesars

MISE À DAY

In the midst of a pandemic, Zachary Morin made a life-changing decision on and off the ice. At only 13 years old, he decided to try his luck in the United States. Let's paint a portrait of this Quebec forward who will soon attract the attention of NHL recruiters. 

This season, Morin wears the colors of the U15 formation of the renowned Detroit Little Caesars organization. About 100 NHL players have played there, including Kevin Hatcher, Mike Modano and Jason Robertson.

The 16-year-old is all the rage. He recorded 94 points, including 41 goals, in just 56 games with the Michigan team.

“During a tournament in Nashville [International Stars U15], it was Matt Murley who proposed to play for the Detroit Little Caesars, says Zachary Morin. Coach Shawn Horcoff liked me too.

“When you have the chance to play in this type of tournament, you face the best players in the world of your age. It can give you opportunities. As for my stats, they're worth nothing if I don't win anything.”

Tkachuk in the nose

In hockey jargon , he is a power forward. The 6-foot-2, 174-pound player quickly identifies his role model in the NHL.

“I compare myself to Matthew Tkachuk,” he says. I'm not afraid to get physically involved. I have good skills, and my transition with the puck is one of my strengths. I should shoot more often at the net, but I see myself more as a game maker.

With the Little Caesars, he evolves within the first line and the first power play unit. One of his trainers is full of praise for him.

“He has a dog in his nose,” said assistant head coach Brian Jardine. He is our leader in checks while being one of our best scorers.

“He is very appreciated by his teammates and hated by our opponents. He's the kind of player you want to have on your team.”

Of course, he still has things to polish in his game.

“It's a process of learning, says Jardine. As a center or winger, he must be able to help his team in his area. It's good to score goals and points, but it's the most complete players who make it to the NHL.”

Direction USHL

In the last few weeks, Morin made another important decision. He signed a letter of intent with the Youngstown Phantoms, a USHL team in Ohio, for the 2023-24 season.

Through his agent Charles-Olivier Roussel, he forwarded this news to all QMJHL teams wishing to select him in the next draft.

“It was a difficult decision, says Morin. I had to follow my heart and my instincts. I am convinced that I made the right decision for my future.”

When asked about the players who have gone back on their word in recent years, Morin is adamant.

< p>“There is no going back. I look forward. I know it's not a common path for Quebecers.

“After the USHL, I want to go to the NCAA. I don't see anything negative in my choices.”

For those wondering, a few American universities have already begun to show interest in it. However, there is no question of putting the cart before the horse.

Instant connection

The Panthoms are one of the many teams to have knocked on the door of Morin and his agent. The young striker has been thrilled with this visit in recent weeks.

“I was impressed by the organization, explains Morin. I had an instant connection with coach Ryan Ward. We see hockey the same way. They want to win a championship, and I have the same goal.

“I know goaltender Colin Winn, who I played with in Rochester. I asked him his opinion on the team, the coach and the management. He was very complimentary.”

Even if he has the potential coming out of his ears, Zachary Morin wants to take the steps one at a time. On the other hand, if all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, he is aware that he could achieve great things in the world of hockey.

An exceptional season within a team powerful

The Detroit Little Caesars U15 are ranked first in the United States in their category. The players of Shawn Horcoff, a former NHLer, have only one loss since the start of the season according to available information.

Despite having several talented players, the Detroit Little Caesars are dominant. With such a performance, it is not surprising that this formation is the team to beat wherever it appears.

“Our players show up and work every game, underlines Brian Jardine. We are well aware that some players can become complacent when they are successful.

“Our group does not. Our players love coming to our training to work. They get high. This is what forces us to become better.”

If they maintain their current ranking, the Detroit Little Caesars will have a bye to the U15 National Tournament, to be held at the end of March. Before that, he will have the chance to get his hands on the state championship.

“We lost only one game, and I am enjoying the moment. It's rare to be part of such a strong team, says Zachary Morin. For the state tournament, it is a preparation for the nationals. On the other hand, we go there to win and dominate it. We don't take anything for granted.”

A certain Horcoff

At the Little Caesars, there are two Horcoffs. Father Shawn is the head coach. His son William brings rain and shine to the ice.

“Shawn played in the NHL and he knows the importance of a good structure, explains Brian Jardine. He also wants our players to use their creativity in the offensive zone.”

Contrary to the father

As for William, he has an exceptional talent. Last year, he scored 70 goals in the U14 category. We don't have precise statistics this season, but he is heading towards the same type of production.

“His style is the opposite of his father. It is a pure marker. He is a 6 foot 4 inch colossus. He's one of the best players I've coached. He is promoted to a bright future.”

“There is no limit to what he can accomplish”

When Zachary Morin and his parents decided to turn to the United States for his sporting and academic future, they called a native Quebecer: François Méthot.

This former LHJMQ has also been a manager of the Rochester Amerks Jr. for a few years. In 2020, he received a call from his former linemate with the Saint-Hyacinthe Laser, Nathan Morin, Zachary's father.

“Nathan and I reconnected, explains Méthot. I knew he was looking to the United States for Zachary's career. He wanted to get a general idea of ​​how the seasons unfolded and the opportunities available to his son.

“A few years earlier, Zach had come to meet our 2007 group at the Tournoi pee-wee de Québec. He liked the group spirit and the environment.”

Dive into the unknown

The Amerks Jr. made room for Morin . At 13, the Quebecer decided to dive into the unknown.

“Because of the pandemic, everything was stopped here [in Quebec], specifies Morin. I was looking for a place to play and ended up in Rochester.

“I won't lie. The first month was very difficult. I didn't speak a word of English. I did not understand anything. Also, due to the pandemic, my parents couldn't come see me on a regular basis. In this time, you miss your mother, your father and your bed.”

Forsberg or Tkachuk?

Méthot worked with several NHL players in recent years. According to his expertise, Morin is a special player.

“Zach has all the tools to succeed. He has the physical strength and the size, he explains. What impresses me with him is his ability to add elements to his game. For other players, it can take a while. With Zach, it's immediate.

“There is no limit to what he can accomplish. You see talented players who lack toughness and you see physical players who lack talent. There is no player like Zach.

“In my opinion, he is faster than [Matthew] Tkachuk. He has other assets that he can bring to a game. With his speed, he is able to carry the puck and set up the power play. I see in him a Filip Forsberg with more robustness.”

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