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 forward, who has 73 points (32 goals, 41 assists) and 206 shots on goal in 61 games this season, is No. 13 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2019 NHL Draft. He is a projected first-round candidate for the 2019 draft, which will be held June 21-22 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Lavoie will submit a draft diary each month for NHL.com leading up to the draft.
We have just returned from our last trip to Quebec, ready to begin the final leg of the regular season against our rivals in the Maritimes.
We're currently fighting for first place in the Eastern Conference and our road trip of three games in four days didn't go exactly as we wanted. It started with a big game against Rouyn-Noranda on March 2 that we really wanted to win.
We took a 3-1 lead but gave it up and lost 8-4. It was a big letdown in our room and we weren't able to bounce back the next day against Val d'Or. They played well and their goalie had a great game, so all the credit to them for winning 3-2.
Fortunately we finished the trip by ending our little two-game losing streak with a 1-0 win in Gatineau. That was a really crucial win and proved a bit of adversity can be a good thing.
The regular season isn't over yet and we still have to make sure that we finish in first place in our conference. It gives you a big advantage the farther you go in the playoffs and we recognize how important it could be, so we're going to do everything we can to secure it.
I'm happy with the way I played in February (24 points in 12 games). It's good to have a strong end to the regular season. Our coach, Eric Veilleux, has kept my line together since the last time I wrote because Antoine Morand (Anaheim Ducks), Samuel Asselin and I continue to have good chemistry.
I'll try to keep this momentum going because the most important thing is to contribute to the offense once we're in the playoffs. It's great to produce during the regular season, but you have to be able to do it when it really counts.
I wasn't satisfied with my contributions in the playoffs last year (three goals, two assists in nine games) and I want to do better this year. We eliminated Baie-Comeau in five games, but then Charlottetown knocked us out in four. We learned that we should never underestimate our opponents. That's going to be crucial this year, because for the most part we will face teams that have finished below us because of our position in the standings. But we will not take anyone lightly.
With five games to go, my big NHL Draft-eligible season is coming to an end and I have to say it's gone by in a flash. It has been pretty much what I originally expected it would be. Of course, there was a lot of coming and going with the Canada-Russia Series, Team Canada junior camp and the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. There was a lot of travel, but it went well.
My meetings with all the different scouts also went well. They were interesting and my teammates who had experience with that helped me by letting me know the kinds of questions I could be asked. It was reassuring because I wasn't going in blind.
In closing, the entire team was deeply saddened by the death of Blainville-Boisbriand forward Alec Reid because of complications related to epilepsy March 3. I knew him personally because I played with him a little in summer hockey camps that lasted a few weeks. I wish to convey my condolences to all his family and loved ones.
Until next time.