Pro hockey in France suits trio of recent Purple Knight graduates

Turcotte, Egan and DeCritoforo all of Class of 2022 say it hasn't always been easy, but extra effort proving well worth it overall

March 23, 2023
By Elizabeth Syverson '23

france artThis past year, Hugo Turcotte ‘22, Matt Egan ‘22, and Andrew DeCristoforo ‘22 joined the ranks of a long tradition of Saint Michael’s College men’s ice hockey athletes to play professionally.

Turcotte plays for the Diables Rouges de Briançon of Ligue Magnus, the top division of French men’s ice hockey. The team is located in a small ski town in the French alps, within sight of the Italian border.


Turcotte in goal for the Purple Knights in this file photo by Jim Laskarzewski, who took all images in this story.

After graduating from Saint Michael’s, Turcotte said that he did not “feel done” with hockey and hoped to return home to his family in France, so he started looking for professional positions.

As much as he loves to play hockey, Turcotte said that his favorite aspect of professional sports is that he no longer needs to balance athletics with academics. For his entire career up to this point, Turcotte had associated sports with school and time management. Playing professionally, however, his work days are now over by 1 p.m. For this reason, one of the largest adjustments he faced was learning how to manage his newfound free time. Living in the Alps, he has enjoyed getting into nature and hiking.

While he now enjoys having his academic career behind him, Turcotte believes that a liberal arts education is invaluable, even for professional athletes.

“The liberal arts open up your mind to a lot of different things,” he said. “Taking classes in philosophy and religion pushes you to learn about new cultures and then take that knowledge with you to those cultures.”

Like Turcotte, both Egan and DeCristoforo did not feel they had accomplished all they wanted to athletically upon graduating from Saint Michael’s. The pair now play for Coqs de Courbevoie of Fédération Française de Hockey sur Glace (FFHG) located just five miles from the heart of Paris.


Egan in action as a Purple Knight.

For Egan and DeCristoforo, the most difficult adjustment they faced was the style of play in France. “The game tends to be less physical than in college and it is more focused on skating and making skilled plays than the grinding style that could occur at times in the U.S.” DeCristoforo said.

Egan added that another adjustment has been the language barrier. “There were several other adjustments to get used to such as stricter refereeing or not being able to speak to the referees due to language barrier,” he said. “Sometimes going through an entire practice without knowing what the coach said. Just learning through watching.”

When off the ice, the teammates have enjoyed experiencing a new culture and exploring Europe.

“Paris is beautiful but complete chaos. Andrew and I always say to each other, ‘you never know what you’re going to see in Paris,’ as on some days we casually head into Paris with no plan at all. We simply hop off the metro train at the Eiffel Tower just to soak in this completely new lifestyle,” Egan said.

Egan and DeCristoforo agree that while the recruiting process to play professionally can be long and difficult, it is worth it for the athletes who have the drive to do so.


DeCristoforo wore No. 5 for Saint Michael’s during student athlete days.

“Never count yourself out and always keep trying because you will find success if you put in the work,” Egan said. “Remain resilient and don’t get frustrated when things fall through and you have nothing. Something will work out.”

“Not only has it been amazing to continue playing the sport I love, but it’s been such an amazing experience living in a brand new culture. It has opened me up to a completely new way of living and changed my perspective on life. For anyone who is lucky enough to have the opportunity to live abroad, I would highly recommend it,” DeCristoforo said.

“I just want to say how thankful I am to everyone who has put their time and effort into me becoming who I am today and allowing me to pursue a forever dream of mine.” Egan said. “And although it’s a lifestyle many dream about, there are obviously many challenges along the way as well. I am so thankful to everyone who has helped and supported me along this journey — I would not be able to do it without them.”

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