May 17, 2015

Lionel Bouvrette

To say Lionel Bouvrette was a competitive person is an understatement.

"I don't think I could live if it wasn't for sports. As long as you can stand on two feet, you can do it," said Lionel Bouvrette in 1994. The 79 year old had just won the bronze medal in a shuffleboard tournament in Delray Beach, Florida.

Lionel Bouvrette was a long time goaltender on the Montreal senior league scene before joining the Montreal Concordia of the Quebec Senior League in 1938. After 3 less than great seasons he joined the Quebec Aces, perhaps the most famous team in the QSHL (Jean Beliveau would play for the team in the 1950s, refusing to play for the Montreal Canadiens because of his love of Quebec City and the QSHL). Bouvrette became a top goaltender for the Aces, leading the league in shutouts and GAA on three different occasions each. He was named the QSHL MVP in 1944, and won the Allan Cup in 1945.

Bouvrette never expressed much interest in turning pro with the NHL. When he was in his prime, NHL rosters were depleted by its players taking part in WWII. Bouvrette however decided to stay in the QSHL. Quebec became his home, and he wasn't too interested in leaving.

Bouvrette did however appear in one NHL game on March 18, 1943. The New York Rangers were in Montreal to play the Canadiens, but their goalie Jimmy Franks came up with an injury and was unable to play. Bouvrette happened to be at the game and with Montreal's permission the Rangers asked him if would play. Lionel agreed.

He obviously would have liked a little more time to prepare for his first NHL start, but no such luxury would be granted to Bouvrette, who had to quickly put on his pads so the game wouldn't be held up any longer than it already had. Bouvrette ended up allowing 6 goals while losing his only NHL contest by a score of 6-3. That love for sports included a stint in professional hockey. In the 1942-43 season Bouvrette got the chance to play at the top level, the NHL, when the New York Rangers needed an emergency replacement. Bouvrette went between the pipes for the blueshirts and gave up six goals in his NHL debut. The next game Bouvrette was back with the Quebec Aces.

The following season Bouvrette was able to celebrate an Allan Cup championship with the Aces, but he never did get another chance to play in the NHL.

Bouvrette passed peacefully away at Delray Beach, Florida on February 8, 2000. He was 85 years old

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