Maxim Noreau Leads Team Canada Into Semifinal Against Germany

Maxim Noreau
Maxim Noreau fires a slap shot during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 18, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Maxim Noreau is accustomed to playing on international sized ice and the 30-year-old believes it has revamped his play as a defenseman. Noreau played hockey in the Swiss National League for HC Ambri-Piotta. His defensive play in the Pyeongchang Olympics speaks to his enhanced endurance and ability to handle the puck under pressure.

Maxim Noreau: Difference Maker

Maxim Noreau is a difference maker for Hockey Canada at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. Noreau lifted the Canadians past Finland, 1-0 in a defensive quarter-final hockey game. Maxim’s slap shot would end up being the game winner and propelled Canada into the semifinal game against Germany on Friday.

The long road

Back in the 2009-10 NHL season, the Montreal native was fortunate enough to play one game for the Minnesota Wild and another five games the next season. After three seasons in Switzerland, Noreau was signed in July 2014 by the Colorado Avalanche and was told to report to their AHL affiliate. Noreau expected that he would be given another opportunity to showcase his potential, but he never got his shot. Noreau spent 2014-2016 suiting up in the American Hockey league with the Lake Erie Monsters and San Antonio Rampage.

Noreau felt like he could have done more with his time in Colorado. He told Shi Dividi, “I was doing really well in the AHL, I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to do, even hitting and fighting, trying to get one game to show, ‘Hey, I’m not the same player I was before’”, but it wasn’t to be. The defensemen added, “you’ve worked that hard to change your game and be a lot better, you’re producing overseas, everyone thinks you can come back and play, and you don’t even get one game. Ever since then, I haven’t really looked back.”

Opportunity in Swiss hockey league

In 2016-17, Noreau returned to the Swiss League where he played two seasons with Bern SC, helping them win the league championship in 2017.

It was Maxim Noreau’s return to the Swiss hockey league which led to him becoming a crucial defenseman for Canada at the Winter Olympics. Noreau was noticed by Team Canada general manager Sean Burke and was invited to represent Canada in pre-Olympic tournaments.

In the leadup to PyeongChang 2018, defenceman Maxim Noreau played for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup (as captain), Channel One Cup, Karjala Cup, and Sochi Hockey Open in 2017. He previously wore the maple leaf at the 2012 and 2016 Spengler Cups, winning gold both times. Noreau was also named an assistant captain for the 2018 Olympic hockey team.

Playing for Canada

Noreau is able to balance his speed and agility while maintaining a low panic point. The six-foot, 194-pound blue-liner fits perfectly into head coach Willie Desjardins‘ five-man attack. Noreau has been efficient in joining the rush and a force to be reckoned with in the corners. Noreau has consistently been strong in transitioning the puck out of the defensive zone and creating opportunities.

Maxim Noreau is tied with Finland’s Sami Lepisto for the Olympic lead in points by a defenceman with five (two goals, three assists), he’s also a plus-five through the four games.

Canada will take on Germany in the Olympic semifinal hockey game on Friday, February 23rd at 7:10 am EST.

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