Lightning prospect Yanni Gourde is on fire. He was recently named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for November. Gourde, who plays for the Syracuse Crunch, scored nine goals and 18 points in only 13 games this past month. He recorded six multi-point games, with a season high three points on November 26th in a Syracuse win over Utica. Gourde has also recorded three multi-goal games, his latest coming on the 19th against Hartford.
After a slow start, Gourde seems to have found his stride offensively. Through the month of October, Gourde only registered a single assist and was a minus-4 in eight games. Fast forward to the end of November and things are dramatically different. Not only are the goals and point totals much improved, but Gourde is also showing improvement defensively as he was a plus-13 on the month.
Syracuse head coach Rob Zettler noted that Gourde has been playing with more confidence of late. “He’s a speedster,” Zettler said. “He is using that speed to beat players off the wall and attack the net.” It is not just Gourde’s offensive that has shown improvements either. “He uses his speed to come back hard,” Zettler said. “He is used on the penalty kill and last minutes of a game…He is accountable defensively.”
The Lightning signed Gourde as a free agent on March 9, 2014. The native of St. Narcisse, Québec, is in his second season with the Crunch. He is not an imposing forward in stature, coming in at 5-9 and 168lbs, but Gourde makes up for his size with a strong compete level. He also possesses a good playmaking ability and vision on the ice.
He spent the 2013-14 season with three different teams: Syracuse, Kalamazoo K-Wings of the ECHL and the Worcester Sharks of the AHL. Gourde was a point-per-game player or better with the Sharks and K-Wings. He potted four goals and 25 points in 25 games for Worcester and 15 goals and 34 points in 30 games with Kalamazoo.
He is known as a playmaker, as witnessed throughout his junior career with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. In 199 career games in the Q, Gourde recorded an impressive 74 goals and 221 points. It was his last year with the Tigres that was the most impressive, as Gourde lit up his opponents for 37 goals and 124 points in just 68 games to lead the league in scoring.