Raphael Lavoie (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) is a right-handed center in his third season with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 18-year-old, who had 73 points (32 goals, 41 assists) and 206 shots on goal in 62 regular-season games this season, is No. 13 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American skaters. He is a projected first-round candidate for the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22. Lavoie has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in seven QMJHL playoff games.
I have experienced some strong emotions over the past few weeks. We won a tough seven-game playoff series against the Quebec Remparts and I received the Michael Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL's best professional prospect at the Golden Puck Gala on April 3.
I went up on stage to receive the trophy from Mike Bossy himself. It was an incredible feeling and a really special moment. It's nice to receive this trophy, but at the same time, I'm not ready to rest on this achievement.
After falling behind 2-0 and 3-2 in our first-round series against Quebec, we managed to extend our season by beating the Remparts twice in Halifax to move on to the quarterfinals against the Moncton Wildcats (Game 1 on Friday).
Things are going well for me, I'm tied for the playoff scoring lead with 13 points in seven games. When you get to the playoffs, the cliche says that everyone has to raise their game a notch, and that's what I'm doing now. I'm doing the little things and playing the right way to help my team win.
When we lost the first two games to Quebec on home ice, we realized that everyone had to step up and play better as a team.
They say that you should never let your emotions run too high or too low, but I have to admit that after losing those two games in front of our fans our morale was pretty low.
It stung, especially since the next three games were played in Quebec, but we came up with two huge wins on the road and passed a big test. Now we know what it takes to win. If we underestimate a team because of where they finished in the standings, we know that they can surprise us.
We also overcame a lot of adversity as one of our top scorers, Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Anaheim Ducks), was diagnosed with mononucleosis before the playoffs. And Samuel Asselin, our top scorer, and Jared McIsaac (Detroit Red Wings), our best defenseman, were each suspended for a game.
It was tough to go through all of that in the first round, but we did it. The pressure has eased up and I feel like we can finally play our way.
Now the table is set for a clash against our rival, Moncton, which has one of the top prospects for the 2019 NHL Draft, Jakob Pelletier (No. 20 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters). It's going to be fun, but whether Jakob is on the other side or not, it won't change my approach. I want to win.
It's going to be a real battle because we have a huge rivalry with them and that's a very good hockey team. The atmosphere will be incredible because both teams have big arenas and they will certainly be filled to capacity.
We'll talk again next month!