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  • Writer's pictureLa Nouvelle Orléanaise

In The Foxes' lair

On January 27th, I attended for the very first time an ice hockey game at the skating rink between the team from Orléans, known as Les Renards (The Foxes), and Les Remparts de Tours. Les Renards, ranked in the 3rd division and at the top of their pool, had every chance to win. 

During the match, there was a festive and family atmosphere: little «cubs » were in the stands cheering on their elder, and the large audience could be heard too, galvanised by an orchestra playing joyful tunes. Obviously, each puck that crossed Les Remparts' goal line provoked scenes of jubilation, especially since in the early moments of the game, Les Renards took some time to find their feet. Their victory was the crowning glory of a thrilling and joyous evening. 

I was so excited about the show that I decided to contact Gilbert Ledigarcher, the team's manager. I had the privilege of attending a training session on Thursday, March 7th, in the presence of Julien Peron, vice-president of Orléans Loiret Hockey sur Glace (OLHG), and the players. In this article, you will find Gilbert's testimony as well as six players' portraits. Follow me into the lair of this endearing and inspiring team.

The cloakroom before the arrival of Les Renards; les Renards before and after putting their sportswear on.

Interview with Gilbert, who has been a coach within the club since 1989. It was in 1968, during the Olympic Games in Grenoble, that he discovered ice hockey. In 1989, when he joined the Orléans club as a player, he decided to also get involved as a coach. Respected by all, he is the leader of Les Renards. Julien, the club's vice-president, was with him during the interview.

Julien, the club's vice president, and Gilbert, manager of the team.

LNO: Gilbert, how long has there been an ice hockey club in Orléans?

Gilbert: Since the skating rink opened in February 1977. The first club – Union Sportive Orléans Hockey – operated from 1977 to 1999. The following year, in 2000, Orléans Loiret Hockey sur Glace was born, and it is still active.

LNO: Can you explain the origin of the nickname Les Renards, given to the club's players?

Gilbert: Every hockey club has an identity. In 2000, the year the new club was born, we organised a drawing competition with the aim of defining the identity of the club; the fox was the animal that stood out the most. It has become our emblem and is the origin of our motto: "We have the munchies".

LNO: How many people are currently playing ice hockey in Orléans?

Gilbert: This year, we have 220 sports federation members with, on one side, a Leisure section, and on the other, a Competition one. The Leisure section is divided into three levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. It is possible to enter the Hockey School as young as four years old. In fact, some of the players who are now part of the Competition section made their debut at the skating rink, here in Orléans. Usually, once you put on your skates, it's for life.

Julien: Yes, my son has been playing it since he was four years old. Today, he is 8 and there is no question of stopping! I too have caught the hockey bug, for when I discovered this sport through him, I wanted to get involved in the club.

LNO: At the moment, the competition team, which is composed of 22 players, is playing in the play-offs. On Saturday, March 23rd in Orléans, the preliminary round will take place against Les Dragons, from Poitiers. What ambitions do you have for this team?

Gilbert: In the 3rd division, there are four pools; we're first in ours. Moving up to the 2nd division is a challenge we want to take up, but we still have a long way to go...! The group wants to go as far as possible; to achieve this, the players train three times a week.

Recap chart

LNO: How would you describe this team?

Gilbert: It is both serious and cheerful, experienced and young. The players are between 17 and 40 years old. In addition, our group welcomes three hockey players from the Schengen area: a Latvian, a Finn, and a Russian. This diversity is a strength.

Training session out and on the ice.

Portraits of players

Name: Benjamin Jones

Age: 27 

Status: captain (4th season) 

Position: striker

"I started ice hockey when I was 8 years old; it was the visual of the posters that attracted me. In addition to being a captain, I also wear a coach hat with the younger players. I like to pass on knowledge. » 

Name: Hugo Jones

Age: 24 

Position: goaltender (7th season) 

"Ice-hockey is a sport that I practice with my family: my mother, Florence Jones, is the club's president; I also have two brothers, including one who is the team captain. I've been training as a goaltender since I was 7 years old. It's a very technical position that I enjoy teaching the club's young goaltenders." 

Name : Antoine Buriez 

Age: 27 

Position: defender 

"I'm originally from Amiens. There, I was part of the Magnus League (professional team). As part of my work-study program, I had a job opportunity near Orléans. When I saw that there was an ice skating, I contacted Gilbert and I went training that very day. I hope to use my experience as a former professional player to make the team grow."

Damir, Reinis & Veeti

Names: Damir, Reinis and Veeti

Countries of origin: Russia, Latvia and Finland

Ages: 23, 20 and 24 years old.

"I started ice hockey when I was 7 years old. This is my 2nd season with Les Renards. This team is like family to me. » Damir
"This is my 1st season here. I love the city, especially the bakeries... » Reinis
"I didn't start ice hockey until I was 22 years old. This is my 1st season with Les Renards. The atmosphere is very family-oriented. We get a lot of support. » Veeti

I would like to thank Gilbert, Julien, and all the players for their welcome and availability.

Come and support Les Renards on Saturday, March 23rd at 6.15 p.m. for the play-off match against Poitiers (ticket: here) 

Gilbert, the joyful hounds' leader

Practical information

Address: Skating rink  1, rue Alexandre Avisse, 45000 Orléans 

Website: OLGH

Phone : (+33) | (+33)

Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube

La Nouvelle-Orléanaise


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