After being selected by the Avalanche in the sixth round (168th overall) at the 2005 Entry Draft, Justin Mercier
went on to enjoy a strong collegiate career at Miami (Ohio) University that included a berth in the 2009 NCAA championship game during his senior season.
Following his four years with the RedHawks, during which he totaled 104 points (52g/52a) in 157 contests, Mercier began his professional career during the 2009-10 campaign.Starting Off
After signing an entry-level contract with the Avalanche on July 10, 2009, the forward spent the first two months of the 2009-10 season with Colorado’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
And while his name didn’t show up on the score sheet very often at the start of the campaign, Mercier did enough of the “little things” on the ice to get noticed. After totaling one assist in his first 24 AHL games, the forward’s hard work was enough to earn a recall by the Avalanche on Dec. 9.NHL Debut - Dec. 9, 2009
On the same day he was recalled, Mercier made his NHL debut against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound winger skated for 7:54 in his first NHL action, which ended in a 1-0 Avalanche loss to the Wild.
Mercier would go on to play two more games with the Avs (Dec. 13 versus the Calgary Flames and Dec. 15 against the Washington Capitals) before being reassigned to the Monsters on Dec. 16.Heating Up In Cleveland
Upon his return to Lake Erie, it became obvious that the Erie, Pennsylvania, native’s brief NHL stint had helped both his confidence level and his play on the ice.
After a slow start to the season statistically, Mercier heated up by recording 11 points (7g/4a) in his first 16 games after being reassigned. Included in that stretch were a trio of multi-goal efforts, including back-to-back two-goal games on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3.First Point – Jan. 31, 2010
Immediately following his aforementioned strong 16-game stretch, Mercier was recalled by the Avalanche for the second time of the season on Jan. 30. The following evening, in his fourth National Hockey League contest, the rookie picked up his first career point.
Mercier assisted on a Cody McLeod
tally in the third period, a goal which ended up being Colorado’s only strike in a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers.First Goal – Feb. 4, 2010
Two games later, Mercier fulfilled a dream held by every hockey player when he netted his first NHL goal. The tally came with 1:18 remaining in Colorado’s 5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators.
“Scoring my first NHL goal was a pretty special moment,” Mercier said at the time. “Unfortunately we were down to Nashville, 5-2, when I scored late in the third. I would have liked to get the goal a little bit earlier in the game to give us a little bit of momentum, but it was still a pretty cool thing.”Closing Things Out
Mercier would go on to play three more games with the Avalanche before being reassigned to Lake Erie on Feb. 14, finishing his first NHL campaign with two points (1g/1a) in nine contests.
Mercier would spend the remainder of the season with the Monsters, where he wrapped up the season by totaling 23 points (13g/10a) in 64 AHL contests. Mercier finished the season tied for seventh on the Monsters in goals.