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Poirier capped off season with successful AHL stint

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

He has a great feel for the game offensively and his vision is outstanding. He really shares the puck well. He can play at a very, very high rate of speed.Troy G. Ward on Emile Poirier

CALGARY, AB – When Emile Poirier’s QMJHL season came to an end, the winger didn’t have much time to dwell on he and Gatineau’s postseason exit.

A few days after the Gatineau Olympiques were eliminated by the Halifax Mooseheads, the Calgary Flames prospect packed up his bags and was off to Abbotsford to join the Heat.

He spent the first couple days practicing with the team, getting a feel for how Heat head coach Troy G. Ward ran his team and got acquainted with his new teammates.

The coaching staff placed him in the lineup on Apr. 18 and he immediately turned heads, scoring his first professional goal in the first period of a 3-0 win over San Antonio.

The next night, in a 4-2 victory over the Texas Stars, the Montreal, QC native was named the game’s first star after notching two assists and a goal in the opening stanza.

The 19-year-old also got into three postseason games, scoring one goal and thoroughly impressing the coaching staff.

“He’s electric with his first couple of feet,” Ward told Sportsnet 960 The FAN. “His strides are electric. He has breakaway speed within a stride, a stride and a half. He’s going to get by people in a quick hurry.

“He has a great feel for the game offensively and his vision is outstanding. He really shares the puck well. He can play at a very, very high rate of speed.”

Poirier’s cup of coffee in the AHL capped off quite a career year for the winger.

He scored 43 goals and 87 points through 63 regular season games with the Gatineau Olympiques. Eight of his markers were game winners, he notched six power play goals, and managed eight short-handed tallies.

Poirier also set new career-highs with 211 shots on net and a 20.4 shooting percentage.

In the postseason, he rattled off seven goals and 10 points through nine outings.

“He’s like most kids: he’s got to continue to hone his development as a defensive player but that is typical for a kid his age, when you have the puck that much and you’re asked to score,” Ward mused. “Those things have to come into place yet but [he’s] just electric.

“Here’s a kid that you project to be a 30-goal scorer in the National Hockey League at some point in time. He’s got the ability to finish, he understands how to share the puck, and he knows where to go when he doesn’t have the puck as well. That makes him a real threat offensively every time he’s on the ice.”

In addition to his offensive prowess, Poirier plays a hard, in-your-face style of hockey that agitates opponents and opens up space his linemates. He racked up 129 penalty minutes and dropped the gloves four times in the regular season.

Ward was pleased to see his young charge assert himself physically against larger opposition.

“The kids today, he’s one of the few that understands he has shoulder pads and he uses them. Not a lot of them understand that right away but he does. He played a little bit banged up for us down the stretch when he got here but he played through it. He played hard.

“He wasn’t totally 100 per-cent during his games in Abbotsford at the end of the regular season and the playoffs but he gave us everything he had. I thought he did a nice job.”

Listen to Ward's full interview HERE.

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