#OnFire – Lauzon

Carl Lauzon joined us in the off season following two successful seasons in Hull. Prior to that, he played for five years in France – first for Avignon and then for Chamonix – and it is that experience which has brought him to the Blaze.
“I’ve not played in the Continental Cup before,” he said. “When I talked with James Pease about moving to the Blaze, that chance was a plus for me, because after we play in Poland we hopefully get to play in France, and I have a lot of friends there, so that would be great to play there again.”
The French hockey season is very different to our own, and it really is all about the playoffs. With fourteen teams in Ligue Magnus (the top league in France), each plays the other home and away just once. Carl explained “They only play 26 league games in a season. With Chamonix we played one game on Tuesday and one on a Saturday. During the season we also had the League Cup, where all the teams in the league play, a bit like the Challenge Cup. Overall we played about 40 games, but you get more rest in between, with only one game a weekend, so it’s a bit different. The game is not as physical as here. It’s not the same standard as here but the level of hockey is getting higher each year.”
France is a much larger country than the UK, and with teams spread mostly along the eastern border, travelling to games is a much bigger task than here. Carl continued, “Every Saturday we travelled and the closest game was four hours away. In France, we would have a bus to sleep on, but here in the UK we have to leave in the morning because we play two games over the weekend. There we left at midnight, slept on the bus and then had a skate when we arrived in the morning. After that we could nap before getting ready for the game. It was a lot of travelling, but it’s just one game at a time, so you could give everything knowing that the next day you could rest. You can give everything, it’s really different to playing here when you know you’ve got another game the next day.”
Due to the playoffs being much more important in France, they take a lot longer than just the weekend that we are used to, resembling more the NHL style play offs. First there is a relegation/promotion battle between the bottom two teams of the league and the top of league two. Carl said, “For the rest of the teams, the top four get a pass to the quarter finals. The other eight teams play a best of five to see who else goes through to the quarter finals, which again are played to best of five. The semi-finals and finals are played best of seven. That’s why you play less games in the season, and that’s what is really different to UK hockey. If you get to the finals in France you play about 50 games in the season.”
“The league means nothing. You don’t win a trophy if you win the league. Finishing in the first four means missing some play-off games and that’s a good advantage. For the best of five game quarter finals you play every two days, so you can’t rest and if you’ve got injuries that’s really hard. Everyone wants to finish in the top four – the play offs are really more important.”

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