They’ve made it into the CHL Top 10 Rankings five times this season and are an honourable mention in the latest edition, but when you get goaltending like the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, any team will be taking you seriously come playoff time.
Hampered by injuries on the blue line, the Huskies enter the weekend off consecutive losses, looking to rebound in road matchups against Sherbrooke and Gatineau on Thursday and Friday.
President Cup champions that came within one shot of Mastercard Memorial Cup glory two years ago in Red Deer, the 30-14-5-3 Huskies feature six holdovers from their championship team including leading scorer Rafael Harvey-Pinard, captain Peter Abbandonato and star goaltender Samuel Harvey.
The star of the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series for Team QMJHL, Harvey earned himself an invitation to Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp and is currently a frontrunner for QMJHL Goaltender of the Year honours with a league-leading 2.11 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and 25 wins over 38 games.
Despite recently turning 20-years-old, Harvey, who set the Huskies all-time record for wins by a goaltender back in November, was included on NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Draft Rankings as the 10th ranked North American goaltender.
“It’s not surprising to see him included on that list,” said Huskies head coach and general manager Gilles Bouchard. “In Samuel’s case, when you work as hard as he has and performed so well, good things happen.”
Defencemen Taylor Ford and Will Thompson have both been sidelined with injuries of late while Pittsburgh Penguins second round pick Zachary Lauzon had his season derailed by injury back in November. The younger brother of Huskies blue line graduate Jeremy Lauzon, the Huskies are hoping to have Zachary back in the lineup sometime later this month.
A recent recipient of CHL Player of the Week honours, third-year veteran Peter Abbandonato has stepped up production of late, registering a career-high five points (1-4–5) on January 28th against Val-d’Or. He’s joined offensively by leading scorer Rafael Harvey-Pinard (23-35–58), fourth-year veteran Mathieu Boucher (21-25–46), 18-year-old Felix Bibeau (19-32–51) and undersized offensive minded defenceman William Cyr (13-27–40).
The Huskies have been a well-balanced group under Bouchard this season, posting the QMJHL’s fifth-ranked power play and fifth-ranked penalty kill while surrendering the league’s second-lowest total of 138 goals over 52 games.
While they’re just a few wins away from returning to the QMJHL Playoffs for a seventh straight year, they could very easily be higher in the standings if not for a 2-8 record in games beyond regulation this season.
They say defence wins championships and with Harvey in the crease, a blue line back at full health would make them an intriguing team to keep tabs on in the stretch drive toward the 2018 QMJHL Playoffs.
OTHER CHL TOP-10 SPOTLIGHT FEATURES:
Sept. 28, 2017 – Regina Pats
Oct. 5, 2017 – Victoriaville Tigres
Oct. 11, 2017 – Victoria Royals
Oct. 18, 2017 – Sarnia Sting
Oct. 25, 2017 – Swift Current Broncos
Nov. 1, 2017 – Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
Nov. 8, 2017 – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Nov. 15, 2017 – Moose Jaw Warriors
Nov. 22, 2017 – Quebec Remparts
Nov. 29, 2017 – Hamilton Bulldogs
Dec. 6, 2017 – Brandon Wheat Kings
Dec. 12, 2017 – Rimouski Oceanic
Dec. 28, 2017 – Drummondville Voltigeurs
Jan. 3, 2018 – Kitchener Rangers
Jan. 10, 2018 – Halifax Mooseheads
Jan. 17, 2018 – Kelowna Rockets
Jan. 31, 2018 – Everett Silvertips