South Shore Breaker
Woodworth earns A letter
Drummondville chooses Bridgewater centre as an assistant captain
On the eve of the QMJHL regular season, Drummondville Voltigeurs third-year centre Luke Woodworth received an A for his efforts. The Volts named the Bridgewater native an assistant captain for the 2022-23 season as they introduced a leadership team that also includes captain Charles-antoine Dumont and assistants Justin Cote and Maveric Lamoureux.
“Going into the year, I definitely thought it was a possibility,” said the 18-year-old Woodworth. “Especially in training camp, I felt that I became more of a leader over the last two years.
“There’s a learning curve to this league. You’re not going to come in Week 1 and be a star. The main nucleus of our team, we’ve learned over the last two years what we can do and what we can’t do in order to win. We’re taking all that knowledge in the right direction now.”
This season marks the first year Woodworth has sported a letter since he captained the major bantam South Shore Lumberjacks in the 2018-19 season. More recently, he was a young gun with Drummondville and previously the major midget South Shore Mustangs.
Despite his youth and relatively small stature, the five-foot-10, 165-pound Woodworth has stood tall with the Volts as a tireless, responsible forward and a mature voice in the dressing room.
He draws on the profound influence of Xavier Simoneau, who was Drummondville’s captain when Woodworth broke into the Q as a 16-year-old.
“He really was everything, for me, as a leader,” Woodworth said of the Montreal Canadiens’ prospect. “He captained a really young team and he led the way in every aspect. He was very well-respected in our room. He wasn’t afraid to speak up. On the ice, he led us in every way, too. He was kind of the perfect leader.
“For me, Maveric (Lamoureux)
and Justin (Cote), we learned a lot that year we had with Simoneau.”
Lamoureux, a six-foot-seven defenceman, is a first-round NHL draft choice of the Arizona Coyotes.
“Mav has learned so much over the summer, so many little details in how he maintains himself,” Woodworth said. “I think he’s brought a lot to our group since he’s came back from (training camp with) Arizona.
“Me, Maveric and Justin, we all came into the league at 16 and now we’re all in our third years and have grown ourselves into our leadership group. It’s been pretty special to grow up with them through the last couple of years of struggles.
“And for Charles-antoine (Dumont), he’s been here the longest — four years — so he knows his way around. He’s cemented himself in the league. He’s a huge part of our group. Very vocal. You can approach him with anything. He’s a real rock for our group.”
Woodworth and his Volts captaincy colleagues want to be collaborative leaders who promote a team culture of inclusivity. “I think a lot of it is just being approachable to the coaching staff and your teammates,” he said. “It’s something that I pride myself in this year. Being someone that anyone on the team can lean on and can talk with about anything.
“You need to be able to have that trust within your teammates and bounce ideas off each other, whether it’s about hockey, school or life in general. It’s really a big part of our team. It’s something that’s very important on any team, to be approachable with each one of your teammates.”
Woodworth is among 10 Atlantic Canadians on a Quebecbased team that’s comprised of an equal blend of players from English and French backgrounds.
“Wherever players come from, we’re always going to welcome them with open arms,” he said. “Really, the language barrier isn’t that much of a difficulty when you’re all together and spending time with each other.
“It’s natural to filter toward your own language, but I feel like as a group this year, especially, we’ve taken a step to be more inclusive as a whole. No matter your language. We’ve hung out more as a team. I think it’s really benefited us so far.”
Woodworth was a 50-point man last season as he scored 16 goals and 34 assists in 68 games.
Although he didn’t hear his name called in the NHL entry draft in July, Woodworth remains confident that pro scouts haven’t heard the last of him.
“It’s disappointing, but at the same time you have to focus on the season,” he said. “It’s still a big year for me and a big year for our team.
“I put some weight on in the summer and added a lot of speed. So, I’m looking forward to this year and kind of proving what I can do.”
As a team, the Volts are energized as well, hoping to take that next step to become a consistently competitive and contending club.
“The past two years, it’s been about developing our games as a whole, but this year the message from Day One is we want to win,” Woodworth said. “We have the group to win, we believe in ourselves and our coaching staff that we have everything at our disposal to be a really good hockey team in this league. There’s no other goal on our team other than to win.”
Two QMJHL veterans that Drummondville acquired from the Charlottetown Islanders in the off-season are skilled defenceman Oscar Plandowski of Halifax and gritty forward Drew Elliott of Musquash, N.B.
“They bring that winning attitude to us that I think we’ve been missing a little bit,” Woodworth said. “They understand what it takes to win in this league. They played on some pretty good Charlottetown teams. They’ve been very good for our group so far. We’ve loved to have them.”
Another former Islander, goaltender Jacob Goobie of Upper Tantallon, is Woodworth’s new billet mate in Drummondville. Goobie joined the Volts midway through last season.
“Goob’s been very good for us,” Woodworth said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in him and (goalie partner Riley) Mercer.”
Last season, Woodworth billeted with then 16-year-old forward Tyler Peddle of Antigonish.
“You can just see how skilled Tyler is, right when he steps on the ice,” Woodworth said. “He’s super strong, big body, he can skate and can really shoot a puck. We’re excited for what he’s going to show us this year. He’s got all the skills in the world to be a top player in this league.”