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Family Competition, Jr. Ducks Helped Lalonde on Way to D-I Commit

By Chris Bayee, 04/08/24, 9:00AM PDT


The Dartmouth-bound forward is the 78th player with ties to the club to make a D-I commitment.

Philippe Lalonde has thrived with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the BCHL this season. Photo courtesy of Chaisson Creative

Ask Philippe Lalonde who some of his toughest competition was growing up and the longtime Jr. Duck doesn't take long to answer.

"My twin sister Allie and I were very competitive when we were younger," Lalonde recalled. "Very competitive."

Philippe, who is in his first season of junior hockey, recently became the 78th player with ties to the Jr. Ducks to make an NCAA Division I commitment. That was one contest Allie beat him to the punch. The former Lady Duck just completed her first D-I season at Northeastern.

"It's always nice to have someone to compete with, and Ally and I wouldn't let up (on each other)," he added. "I'm very proud of all she's accomplished."

Lalondes Have Ice Water In Their Veins

The Lalonde family is very much at home on ice. Philippe's father, Francois, played growing up in Canada, and his mother, Valerie, was a figure skater. Older sister Madeleine played for the Lady Ducks and Irvine United in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League. 

"Our entire family has a skating background," Philippe added. 

Having that early exposure to hockey paid off for the twins, each of whom wore the No. 21 this season. 

Allie had a stellar past year in the game. She won a bronze medal with Team USA at the Under-18 World Championships in 2023, and then scored 17 points, including eight goals, in 39 games. She was sixth on the Huskies in scoring and made the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

Philippe has enjoyed a solid debut for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the British Columbia Hockey League, scoring 13 points in 30 games. He said he feels at home there after a travel-filled first season of juniors.

The Bulldogs are the third team he's played for, starting in Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League and continuing with Minot of the North American Hockey League. 

"It's been a big step up from youth hockey, and this year has been a bit different," said Lalonde. "The BCHL has been the best fit, from the coaches to the players. It's been cool to see my game develop throughout the season."

Ivy League Was Logical Choice

Lalonde's combination of size (6-foot-3), skill, skating and hockey IQ made him an appealing recruiting target. Factor in his family's emphasis on academics, and the Ivy League made plenty of sense. 

"My family and I talked about it a lot, and Dartmouth was the best fit for me academically and hockey-wise," said Lalonde, who is projected to start college in 2025. "The program seems to be going in an upward direction.

"The support system was excellent, and seeing the campus was a great experience."

Jr. Ducks Set The Table for Advancement

Growing up in Orange County and playing for the Jr. Ducks paved the way for all of this, he added. 

"I had great role models, from my coaches to the Ducks," Lalonde said. 

"I can't say enough about how much Scott Niedermayer, Jason Marshall, Sandy Gasseau and Craig Johnson helped me. They're all great coaches," he added. "I did a lot of skills sessions with Craig, and not only did he help me develop my skills but he gave me a lot of insight to grow my game. 

"He, Scott and Jason played in the NHL, and their experience was valuable. Sandy was great as well. He pushed me and our entire (2005 birth year) group to be better."

The NHL Ducks also played a role. 

"I studied (former Ducks center) Saku Koivu's game. His family lived close to us, and we were friends with his son and daughter," Lalonde said. "I met him when I was younger. I modeled my game after him and how he carried himself. Growing up, I wore No. 11 because of him."

Lalonde is proud of his 2005 cohort from the Jr. Ducks, a group that includes Air Force commit Francois Devilliers, Michigan State commit Christian Kim, New York Rangers draft pick and Western Michigan commit Ty Henricks, Jason Zaccari and Zeev Buium, who has helped Denver to the Frozen Four. 

"It's crazy to see how everyone goes different paths after starting with the Jr. Ducks," Lalonde said. "We had some great players and were very competitive with other teams and each other."

As good as that group is, his best competition sat with him at the dinner table.