Gwinnett Gladiators goaltender Louis Domingue is in his second season as a pro and has been one of the ECHL’s best this year. (Photo: Amanda Hertel)
Louis Domingue has been one of the ECHL’s best goalies this season, his second with the Gwinnett Gladiators after turning pro last year. Domingue, a Phoenix Coyotes prospect, was called up to AHL Portland last week after posting a .939 save percentage and 2.01 goals-against average in seven games for Gwinnett.
In this installment of “Getting to Know …,” Domingue talks with staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including his cooking talents, starting out as a forward and being drafted by Phoenix in 2010.
CT: What’s your hometown like?
LD: I’m from Mont Saint-Hilaire, it’s about 25 to 30 minutes outside of Montreal. There are some good hockey players that have come from there. None of which played in the NHL, but a lot of guys played in junior so growing up we had a good program.
It’s a nice city with a big mountain. You can’t ski on it, but you can hike it.
CT: Is it fair to call it a suburb of Montreal or is it more it’s own entity?
LD: Montreal is the city. We’re more countryside. It’s 10 minutes away from the agriculture capital, which is where I was born. So you’ve got a little bit of both. It’s a pretty wealthy city. We’ve got the river and some nice golf courses.
CT: You played almost all of your junior career for Quebec (in the QMJHL). So not too far from home?
LD: It’s a two-hour drive. So my parents were there every game. My dad followed me about everywhere I played. My mom is a teacher, so she couldn’t make it all the time, but she came on the weekend games.
CT: How old where you when you left home to play in Moncton?
LD: Well, I left the year before to play midget. I was 14 or 15. I played a year there in Montreal. I could go back home every weekend. But I did stay with Louis Leblanc, who played for the Canadiens. I lived with him there and then I got drafted to Moncton, which is about 1,000 kilometers away from home. I played there for two years and then came back closer.
CT: Was the initial transition to being that far from home tough?
LD: No. You know, my sister was going out with the other goalie so for three years, we had known each other and we lived close. So I never really had trouble adapting to being away from home. My dad used to travel a lot for work, so I was used to being away.
CT: What about the difference living in the Southern U.S.?
LD: It’s different, but besides the weather, the people are very welcoming and polite. We have a great organization and great people around us. It made us successful my first year and hopefully we can turn things around this season.
CT: Are there things you miss from home, other than friends and family? Any food items?
LD: We did have some trouble finding some farmed beef. We usually have it thin sliced. Here they use cubes. That was the only thing I struggled finding here. I probably did with other stuff. But there’s a lot less grocery stores than we have in Quebec. They’re definitely smaller (in Quebec), there’s definitely less stuff in them, but every corner almost there’s a grocery store.
CT: Are they better about stocking local produce and stuff like that?
LD: They are. But you can find your good meat in Atlanta, too. It’s a lot where you shop and what you want. Some people don’t care.
CT: You obviously care. There are lots of pictures on Twitter of your cooking exploits. Is it something you’ve always enjoyed?
LD: My mom, my grandma, who lives two houses away from us and was always over, I grew up watching. I never really helped or anything, but I guess it was just in me. I always said cooking isn’t actually hard. It’s really more just taking the time to do it and you’ve got to enjoy it, of course, because it does take time. Most people don’t want to spend that time.
CT: Cooking is a kind of an experiment, right?
LD: I like using lots of different flavors and trying different things. It’s a matter also of finding the people to taste it.
CT: Is there a shortage? I’d think all the guys on the team would love a homecooked meal.
LD: They do. The way it works is I cook and they clean.
CT: Are you building a rivalry with Peter (Delmas) with the cooking?
LD: (smiling) I posted some things (on Twitter) and I think he’s mad because when I was up (in AHL Portland), he had my room and when I came back, I got my room back.
CT: He did have a pretty nice photo the other day of salmon over asparagus.
LD: He did. But you didn’t see my General Tso’s chicken I made. All homemade. It was a pain. But it was (Jeremie) Malouin’s girlfriend’s birthday and that’s what she wanted.
CT: How many guys did you know or know of from junior that ended up playing here this season? Because there are a lot of guys from your part of Canada.
LD: I played with Martin Lefebvre and Malouin in Quebec. I’ve known Malouin since I was 12. Martin, I’ve know for a long time, too. (Jonathan) Narbonne, we have the same agent so I’ve know a while. We played against each other since we were kids. Belzile I played summer hockey with. All the French guys, I’ve known. When we played in juniors, we had mutual friends. Lots of the guys are from Montreal or Quebec. I played and lived in both. Then you meet them outside the ice.
CT: Do they turn out to be nice guys?
LD: (laughing) Yeah.
CT: Collectively as a team, is everyone’s French and English getting better?
LD: Some guys are trying to pick up some words here and there. But in juniors, everything was English for most of us. So the adjustment isn’t that big here.
CT: There’s usually varying degrees of ability.
LD: There is. There is a lot of French talking in this room though. Not a lot of guys like that.
CT: I guess they just have to learn some French then.
LD: (smiling) Exactly. We did learn English.
CT: How early did you start learning it?
LD: I had a cottage in Gloucester, Mass., when I was young so every time I wanted to go play with the other kids, baseball on the beach, I would go to my dad and ask him how to say it in English. So I picked up some words there and then I played for Lac St-Louis, which is on the west island side of Montreal. It’s all English. It’s basically a different province there. You get approached in English in stores and everything else. Then in Moncton is way more English. Coming back to Quebec has taken me a little bit back to the French. A lot more actually. Because back in Moncton, my billet was only English. So if I needed something, I had to figure it out. Which, I still talk to them. They came to a game in Portland.
But this locker room we have here, it’s a lot like a locker room in Quebec.
CT: It’s so unusual to have this many. It’s almost a half and half split.
LD: That’s how it looks in the QMJHL.
CT: What was draft day like for you?
LD: I had a lot of family there, friends. I was actually listed in the first two rounds. I don’t know what happened. (laughing a little and shaking his head) I expected to go a little sooner, but when I got drafted, I hugged my dad — he was the first one — and he said just to smile. Because you saw guys before that were drafted that were supposed to go sooner, you saw they weren’t happy. But you got drafted to the NHL. At some point, it’s just about making it there, but it takes more time than you think.
You’re going to have more chances being a first-rounder, but if you do your stuff and you do whatever it takes to get there, you will.
CT: You’ve already got a couple of seasons of pro hockey under your belt and you’re just 21. In the grand scheme of things, you’re still a really young guy.
LD: I’m young, but when you go to the American League, you just feel like you’re closer. Especially when you play well. It just seems not far away.
CT: Obviously everyone wants to get to the NHL as soon as they can. But especially with goaltenders, the window for making it, seems much bigger.
LD: When I’m in Gwinnett, I play here and I play to win here. When I’m up (in the AHL), I play there and I don’t think about Gwinnett. You’ve just got to stay in the present moment.
CT: Any players in particular that you admired or looked to to play your position?
LD: I really liked Jeff Hackett. I don’t even know why. Then I started looking more to Henrik Lundqvist the last few years.
CT: What about Martin Brodeur, as another French Canadian and one who likes to handle the puck? Because you’re not afraid to play the puck.
LD: Absolutely not the guy I look to. He plays a much different game than I do. But I think I really liked playing out as a forward more than when I was playing goalie. That’s probably why I like playing the puck so much.
CT: So you started out as a forward?
LD: Just one year.
CT: Was it a need for a goalie or did you want to try it?
LD: My goalie broke his finger so we needed a goalie. And I catch with the other hand, so I had to buy my own equipment. Plus he didn’t want to give me his equipment. Then I had the equipment so I didn’t have a choice.
CT: What kind of music do you listen to most often?
LD: I listen to a lot of stuff. I really like B.B. King. I like the old stuff. I have a turntable so I play old records most of the time.
CT: Any TV shows you try not to miss?
LD: I watch a lot of TV shows. My favorite one would have been “Entourage.”
CT: Are you a go to a concert kind of guy?
LD: Yeah, I already have two lined up for this summer — City in Colour and Justin Timberlake.