The MHL released the names of some of this season’s major award winners and included in that list is Campbellton’s Francis Thibeault who was named as 2018-19 Defenceman Of The Year.
After spending some time in the Q, Francis returned to the Tigers for the 2017-18 season,where he quietly went about the business of learning how to control a game from a defensive point of view, something which, in this, his final season in junior hockey, he has done exceptionally well. A regular on the powerplay and penalty kill, Francis logs a pile of ice time each and every game. He consistently is a serious challenge to all puck carrying opponents who, after entering the Tigers’ zone, often find themselves stripped of the disc by a poke check from Francis’s long stick or physically separated from it by his sturdy frame. Once he has control of the puck, he then goes to work changing the direction of the play. His “office” is behind his own net and he can often be found there, readying himself and his teammates to initiate another Tiger attack. Whether it is with a quick, sharp pass or with a few, long powerful strides, Thibeault gets the puck moving towards the opponents’ zone in a controlled fashion. More often than not, his intention is to set up a team-mate rather than score himself but his speed, combined with his heavy shot makes opponents wary every time he has the puck inside their blueline. His ability to turn an opponent’s attempted breakout into a Tigers’ scoring chance has helped his forwards put lots of pressure on defenders. This season, Francis scored just three goals but his thirty-five assists, including eighteen on the powerplay was tops for all MHL defencemen.