EDMONTON, AB - After posting an undefeated month of November in between the pipes for the Drummondville Voltigeurs, it was difficult for Olivier Rodrigue not to be named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's (QMJHL) Goaltender of the Month.
But when you're undefeated in 10 games, and playing behind the second-most potent offence in the 'Q', luckily there's plenty of upside for the Chicoutimi, Quebec netminder to fall back on.
"Those guys are scoring a lot of goals and allow me to play with confidence not having to worry about giving up one or two goals," Rodrigue said of the offence in front of him that includes 2018 first-rounder Joe Veleno and Anaheim Ducks junior-returnee Maxime Comtois.
"The game might already be over by then."
The Voltigeurs are 20-6-1 this season and leading the QMJHL's Central Division, and they're only getting better. They've won six games in a row and outscored their opponents to the tune of 43-13 during that span, including a 10-3 thumping of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada on December 2.
Rodrigue has been instrumental, leading the QMJHL in victories with a 16-4-1 record this season and holding a 2.34 goals-against average and .907 save percentage, including one shutout. The Oilers second-round pick from this past June's 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas is riding a personal 10-game win streak, showcasing his ability to read the play one step ahead of the puck carrier and quick movement around the crease.
"My confidence is pretty high, but every day I keep working," Rodrigue said. "I don't want to sit on my success; I want to better myself every day in practice. During games I want to give my team the chance to win."
The 6-foot-1, 160-pound goalie played 53 regular-season games and another 10 during the playoffs last season for Drummondville, along with four more on the international stage for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
An omittance from Canada's selection camp for the upcoming 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Victoria and Vancouver has the 18-year-old even more determined to improve with a Voltigeurs side that has big ambitions in the QMJHL this season.
"It's pretty disappointing," Rodrigue said. "At the beginning of the season I expected to be at the camp at least, but they made a choice and I forced them to think about me until the last minute. I'm not shy about my season and the way I've played, so I'm just going to keep working every day. Maybe this year was not my year, so I'll push for next year and winning a gold medal with Team Canada then."
With his focus now firmly on the present and his work in the crease with a powerful Drummondville team, the Voltigeurs aim to win their seventh straight on Wednesday against the Rimouski Océanic and Alexis Lafrenière, the highly-touted 2020 NHL Draft hopeful that that Edmontonians are familiar with from Canada's gold-medal winning team at this past summer's Hlinka Gretzky Cup at Rogers Place.
It'll be an early simulation of the intensity of playoffs for Rodrigue and the Voltigeurs, who are focused on the next eight games in the run-up to the Christmas break and challenging the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for the top spot in the QMJHL's Western Conference.
"For sure it's going to be a good game," Rodrigue said. "They have a good team, so it's going to be a physical and fast game like in the playoffs. We have to stay focused, be ready and everyone is doing their job."