So effortless is his skating, so natural his movement with the puck, it seems hard to imagine a time when hockey did not come easily to Damien Giroux. The 11 year old grade six student at Ecole Notre-Dame (Hanmer) recently capturing the scoring race in the Northern Ontario Peewee “AAA” Hockey League (NOPHL), despite the fact that he is a year younger than the bulk of his opponents.
Yet the Valley East native acknowledges that in spite of being on the ice at a very early age, there were no hints of stardom from the start. “My first two years, skating was not easy,” Giroux said. “I didn’t have any suspenders, so my pants would drag down,” he added with a smile.
These days, dragging down the eldest of two boys in the family (younger brother Zacharie is also quite the hockey talent) might be the only way to slow him down. A true student of the game, Damien Giroux watches and emulates the pros as well as anyone.
“Watching guys like Sidney Crosby makes me want to be like him,” Giroux said. “Every chance I get to go out on the outdoor rink, I head off and work on my stickhandling moves – on boots or on skates.”
Little surprise then that the talented sniper has established quite the resume of highlight reel goals, including one jaw-dropping beauty while participating at the Brick Invitational Tournament at the West Edmonton Mall.
“There was a turnover in the neutral zone and I picked up the loose puck. As I moved in, someone kind of tripped me, so I was falling one way,” Giroux said. “But I got my balance back enough to go the other way, stop and tuck the puck around the goalie.”
“After the game, the refs came in our dressing room and asked who scored that goal.” While success has followed the son of Daniel and Claudette Giroux through his early years in hockey, his size, or lack thereof, has required a necessary adjustment.
“Everybody is bigger now and the coaches teach them how to look at a player’s chest, so it gets a little tougher to make moves,” said the well-spoken fully bilingual student. “I always need to use head fakes.”
Apparently, they’ve worked pretty well. Giroux tallied 36 goals and 30 assists in 30 games with the Nickel City Sons “AAA” Peewees this year, finishing two points ahead, in the scoring race, of teammate Bradley Chenier.
A pretty skilled soccer player in his own right as well, Giroux suited up with the Sudbury Athletic competitive team until two summers ago, opting to focus moreso on hockey. Still, he does manage to work in a few others sports, playing some volleyball and basketball for the school team.
“It’s important to have these school sports,” Giroux said. “It helps keep my mind off hockey at times and always competing. It let’s you relax and have fun.”