By Brendan Price / USPHLPremier.com
After more than three seasons and over 115 games with the Eagles, defenseman Xavier Fortin has a lot to reflect on.
“I believe I really grew as a person and a hockey player,” he said. “Being surrounded by people that motivate you and push you to do better everyday really helped me become who I am today.”
The Candiac, Que., product has taken the push to the next level with his commitment to Fredonia State University (NCAA DIII) for the 2023-24 season.
“Forts has taken his game to another level. It’s great to see his game come full circle and he has worked hard to get to this stage of his career,” said Eagles Head Coach/General Manager Steve Haddon.
Fortin arrived in Northern Colorado, thanks to a referral from youth teammate and friend, Nicolas Samson (2020-21).
“We were just talking about how much he liked it in Colorado and since he was already there, he said let’s try and get you here,” Fortin began. “Next thing we know, two weeks later, I’m in Colorado.”
“I always say that players are your best recruiters,” Eagles Head Coach Steve Haddon stated. “We were about one month in and [Samson] told me about Forts and it was a pretty easy decision for both sides.”
His debut in Northern Colorado occurred with a bang, scoring in his first career game during the 2020-21 season. Since then, his scoring has improved with each season and he’s set to finish his junior hockey career with a flourish and career highs in all major offensive categories.
“Forts has made a home here and been a big part of our leadership and defensive corps,” Haddon said. “He has developed a quiet confidence in his game.”
“Having a big role with a lot of responsibilities and more maturity is something I believe has really helped me grow my game this year,” Fortin added.
While working through the college selection process, the defenseman locked in on Fredonia after conversations with former Eagles Ethan Pitzman (2021-22) and Charles-Anthony Barbeau (2020-23), both of whom currently play at Fredonia.
“Pitzy and Barbs are guys that I spent a lot of time with over the last two years. When they told me everything that they loved about Fredonia, it definitely affected me because I know how much I can trust them,” Fortin said.
His age-out season has been his finest. The third-year Eagle has career highs in goals, assists, points, and has averaged over 32:00 minutes per game which is far and away leading the team in minutes this season. Haddon believes that the increased role will lead to success at the next level.
“His skating and deception with the puck are skills that will allow to create time and space to open up options for his decision making. He defends well with aggressive reads and makes it tough on opposing players,” Haddon said.
With just the playoffs left in his junior career, Fortin’s reflections included the network of support that helped him arrive at this point.
“My family, my billet family [The Patch’s], my teammates, and my coaches have all had such a big impact in motivating me and pushing me to be better every day,” Fortin added.
“I owe all of my success to them,” he concluded.