Xavier Lapierre Commits to New England College

Xavier Lapierre is the latest to join a double digit list of Worcester Railers Junior Hockey Club players who have committed to college hockey programs from the 2022-2023 roster.

The Quebec native will be attending New England College come the Fall of 2023. The Pilgrims, an NCAA Division 3 program, compete within the New England Hockey Conference.

“Coach (Sean) Bertoni and I discussed NEC at the beginning of March,” Lapierre said. “Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see the campus yet, but I talked with (Railers defenseman Jackson) Collard, who is also going there, and he told me all about it.”

The 02’ goaltender garnered interest from a number of schools, but NEC “stood out, both academically and athletically.”

“It will be exciting to play in one of the most competitive conferences in D3 hockey,” he said. “I really like NEC’s facilities and the direction they are going. I had some talks on the phone with head coach Tom Carroll and every time we spoke, it was clearer in my mind that NEC was the right fit for me. It’s a small school, which I like, and they also had my program, kinesiology, which was a big plus.”

A two-year Railer, he first appeared on the team’s radar during his time at Kents Hill School, a preparatory school in Maine. He had long hoped to play in America, and at the age of 15, he was ready to make the jump. In his first season with Kents Hill, he boasted a .940 save percentage in six games.

Prior to his time in the US, Lapierre played in his home country. On the ice by the age of three, he strapped on the pads at seven. His last year in Canada, he played for Académie St-Louis of RSEQ D1.

“I have been on many teams but everything unlocked for me when I played for Académie St-Louis in Quebec,” the goaltender said. “I played there for one year and then made the jump to Kents Hill School. The head coach at the time there, Larry Cockrell, had great confidence in me and it showed on the ice and I improved every day.”

Despite not playing in his senior year due to the pandemic, late Railers General Manager Mike Addesa II had watched Lapierre in his previous years at the school.

“He took a chance on me and I couldn’t be more thankful,” Lapierre said of Addesa.

Railers head coach Sean Bertoni describes Lapierre as a “patient goalie that relies on his positioning and quickness. He is very sound in all areas, and he worked hard on his skating which is a key to a good goaltender.”

Lapierre began his time in Worcester in the EHLP. Although unsure of what to expect, he “trusted the process,” a piece of advice given to him by Addesa.
“I trusted the process and got my chance in the EHL. Now, I get my chance in college which is exciting,” he said.

Lapierre played 19 games this past season, sharing the net with fellow 02’ Stefan Kulhanek. Lapierre notched a .922 save percentage and two shutouts with a 12-5-0-1 record.

“Having Stef as a goalie partner was great,” Lapierre said. “He’s a great guy and a fierce competitor. We made each other better by always trying to outwork each other. I couldn’t ask for a better goalie partner for sure.”

The sentiment is shared by Kulhanek, who said “the most important thing was that we always learned from each other. There was so much respect between Z and me.”

That respect was on full display this past season, with Kulhanek giving up a start in net for Lapierre, whose family was in Worcester. When Kulhanek had the chance to clinch the EHL all time wins record on home ice, Lapierre returned the favor.

Situations like that are why Bertoni characterizes Lapierre as a “tremendous teammate.”

Lapierre will take his talents and character to NEC this fall, joining fellow Railer Jackson Collard, who was “excited when I heard the news.” Collard went on to say “it will be good to have some familiarity going into next year.”

Lapierre has been using this offseason to “elevate his game and go into pre-season camp at NEC in the best shape possible.

He is eager to step back in the classroom, but as a whole is excited to “live the college experience.”