BROSSARD - After making the cut at rookie camp, forwards Maxime Fortier and Alexandre Goulet will be vying for roster spots with the AHL's Laval Rocket.
Fortier, 19, and Goulet, 21, were among the eight invitees named to the Rocket's training camp on Wednesday, which will get underway on Friday morning with a practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
Fortier is coming off a career year in the QMJHL ranks with the Halifax Mooseheads, putting up 32 goals and 87 points in 68 games.
The Montreal native was obviously ecstatic to learn that all of his hard work over the past week had paid off with a shot at cracking the Rocket roster.
"When you come here, it's definitely with that in mind. This is a really great opportunity for me," said Fortier. "I think I did good work up until this point. But, there's still a lot to do. I'm happy that I had the chance to showcase my skills. I felt good in the games at the rookie tournament… Since the beginning of the summer, my goal was always the same. I see myself playing in Laval this year. I only had one goal and it wasn't to return to Junior. I'm happy that I was invited so I can keep on going to reach my goal."
The undrafted right-winger is keen on making a good impression on the Rocket brass from the start, and he believes he can do just that as training camp rolls on.
"I have confidence in my abilities. I've played against really, really good players in Junior and I've played with really, really good players, too. I can play this calibre of hockey. I just have to show it to the people in charge," insisted Fortier. "There are so many undrafted players who managed to make their mark and pave their own road. It's just another source of motivation. If others managed do it, why can't I?"
Calm, cool and collected, Fortier isn't feeling anxious at all ahead of the opening on-ice session, which, in addition to Goulet, will also feature Jordan Boucher, William Corrin, Kevin Dufour, James McEwan, Saverio Posa and Antoine Samuel.
"I don't feel any extra pressure being from Quebec. I think that people are just going to be excited for me. As a fan of the Canadiens myself since I was a kid, you really like to see Quebecers succeed. It's a great experience," explained Fortier, who doesn't plan on letting the fact that he'll be sharing the same facility with Canadiens regulars day in and day out overwhelm him either. "When you start out, you might ask yourself - "Did I really get here?" But, there's a reason why I'm here, so it's definitely special. You have to tell yourself that you have a place here."
Goulet, meanwhile, enjoyed a breakout campaign by amassing 39 goals and 89 points in 68 outings for the QMJHL's Victoriaville Tigres.
Like Fortier, the centerman went undrafted and was eager to prove he had the goods to earn a shot at the pros.
"Being an invitee at rookie camp, I think I had more to prove. I had to show them my skills and my ability to be a good teammate, and that I wanted to make the team, too," said Goulet. "This is another step in the right direction and I'm going to continue to work hard to show them that I can earn a spot."
It just so happens that the Thetford Mines, QC native already has a good idea of what the AHL level has in store after suiting for three games with the Rochester Americans last season. He plans on using that experience to his advantage.
"You see the calibre of the AHL. I can benefit from it next season, for sure, in terms of getting used to the system," mentioned Goulet. "The speed also isn't the same. The guys are stronger. It's different than Junior. That experience in Rochester is a bonus, I'd say."
With that in mind, it's safe to say Goulet can't wait to suit up on Friday and get things going again on the South Shore.
"It's like a dream come true. You have the Canadiens camp and then you have the Rocket camp. I'm going to give my all to play in Laval and play close to my family and friends," concluded Goulet. "It's extra motivation. I think I'm ready for that challenge."