Photo credit: QMJHL, RDS
The Val-d’Or Foreurs will honour one of their best on Saturday night when they retire the jersey of Simon Gamache.
Gamache spent three seasons with the Foreurs tallying 389 points in 214 games. In 2001, Gamache led Val-d’Or to their second President’s Cup in franchise history. The Thetford Mines, PQ native smashed Mario Lemieux’s 18-year-old record by scoring 57 points in the 2001 QMJHL playoffs.
A draft-pick of the Atlanta Thrashers, the diminutive forward appeared 48 NHL games with stops in Nashville, St. Louis and Toronto. Gamache finished his professional career in Austria with the Vienna Captials of the EBEL after spending five years in Switzerland and one year in Germany.
In honour of Gamache’s jersey being raised to the rafters, lets take a look back at his time in Nova Scotia.
Gamache’s first stop in the province was Sydney, NS when the Foreurs visited the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on November 28th, 1998. The Val-d’Or rookie grabbed an assist on Nick Greenough’s third goal of the season. Gamache finished the game with four shots-on-goal.
The following night, Gamache and the Foreurs travelled 400km southwest to the provincial capital for a tilt with the Mooseheads. Gamache failed to find the scoresheet as his team were the victims of a 5-1 defeat to the host Mooseheads. Future linemate Brandon Reid notched an assist in the win.
The Foreurs would return to Nova Scotia two months later. Coming off a 7-3 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the 21-24-2 Foreurs were looking to further improve on their subpar record with a visit to Centre 200. Gamache fired the puck by former Foreurs goaltender David St. Germain for his 13th goal of the season and first in Nova Scotia. However, the Val-d’Or rookie’s goal was too little too late as the Foreurs fell to the Screaming Eagles by a score of 4-2.
24-hours later, the Foreurs clashed with the Mooseheads at the Halifax Metro Centre. Gamache grabbed an assist in a 7-3 loss to the 33-12-5 Mooseheads. Ladislav Nagy led Halifax with three goals and two assists in the rout.
The next season, Gamache took over from Benoît Dusablon and Christian Daigle as the Foreurs top striker.
Gamache and the Foreurs travelled to Sydney, NS for their first Maritimes road trip of the 1999-2000 season. Artem Rybin led the Eagles to a 4-1 win over the Foreurs while rookie goaltender Daniel Boisclair made 38 saves for his fourth career win.
Arriving in Halifax, NS the following day, the Foreurs were looking to snap a nine-game winless streak. Gamache scored three times and added two assists leading the visiting squad to a dramatic 6-5 overtime win over the Mooseheads. The game marked the second time Gamache scored three goals in a game and the first time the offensive dynamo earned a hat-trick on the road.
Later in the season, the Foreurs revisited Cape Breton at Centre 200. The struggling Foreurs reached a low point in the year losing to the 19-36-6 Screaming Eagles by a lopsided score of 9-1. Gamache assisted on the lone Val-d’Or goal.
The Foreurs capped off their season series with the Mooseheads on March 4th in Halifax, NS. For the third time in 1999-2000, the two teams needed overtime to decide a winner. This time, the Mooseheads were on the victorious side by way of a Jasmin Gelinas goal two minutes into the extra frame. Despite the loss, Gamache shined tallying three points and six shots-on-goal.
2000-2001 was the crescendo of Gamache’s time in Val-d’Or. Now in his third year with the Foreurs, Gamache was the centre of attention in northwestern Québec. The Foreurs finished atop the West Division with a record of 46-17-7-2 with Gamache’s 184 points leading the way.
The 12-6-1 Foreurs stumbled during their first visit to the Maritimes. After falling 7-5 to the Moncton Wildcats the night prior, the Foreurs were defeated 4-2 by the Mooseheads on Remembrance Day. Gamache had just two shots-on-goal in the loss. Former Moosehead Brandon Reid grabbed two assists in his return the the Halifax Metro Centre.
Val-d’Or wrapped up their first Maritimes road trip of the year with a 5-3 loss to the Screaming Eagles on November 12th. Gamache scored a goal and an assist in the defeat. The Foreurs dropped three-straight games for the second and last time in the 2000-01 season.
Gamache would make his final trip to the east coast as a major junior hockey player in March 2001. The Foreurs crossed the Canso Causeway having earned points in 11 consecutive games. In his final game at Centre 200, Gamache torched the Eagles scoring three times and adding an assist in an 8-1 thrashing. The Lévis Chevaliers alum notched six goals and four assists in six trips to Cape Breton during his major junior career.
The Foreurs superstar made his final appearance at the Halifax Metro Centre on March 3rd, 2001. Like in his first visit to Halifax, Gamache failed to find the scoresheet in a 4-1 loss to the Mooseheads. Gamache scored five times and picked up six assists in six games at the Halifax Metro Centre in his major junior career.
On Saturday, December 9th, 2017, Gamache’s number 22 will be raised above the ice of the Air Creebeec Centre when his former team hosts the Moncton Wildcats.