When he arrived at training camp in September, Nathan Larose was expected to help lead a retooling Cape Breton Eagles club as one of its remaining veteran presences. Little did anyone know that the first part of the 2020-21 campaign would see the overage defenseman produce at a pace rarely seen in league history.
The 20-year-old from Mirabel, Quebec got off on the right foot by scoring in the Eagles’ season opener against the Halifax Mooseheads. By the end of October, Larose had potted six goals. In the 15 games he suited up for prior to the extended break, the fifth-year veteran found himself producing at better than a point-per-game clip with 17 points, including 10 goals. Five of them have come with the man advantage, tied for second in the circuit.
Over the entire history of the QMJHL, this leaves Larose tied for the fifth best start to the season in terms of goals scored over the course of 15 games. The last player to perform at such a prodigious pace was Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, who notched 11 goals for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in that same span during the 2011-12 campaign.
The top three names on this list are further proof of the select company Larose finds himself in. The players who hold the top two goal scoring seasons among rearguards each sniped a dozen in their first 15 games. The end result? Future 19-season pro Derrick Walser finished the 1997-98 season with 41 tallies for that years’ President Cup Finalists, the Rimouski Oceanic while 490-game NHL veteran Marc-Andre Bergeron recorded 42 goals for the powerhouse 2000-01 Shawinigan Cataractes. But the all-time record goes to Pierre Lacroix, who found the back of the net 13 times in the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs first 15 games back in 1978-79. These would be the first steps towards a record 137-point campaign for Lacroix, who landed a spot on the QMJHL’s Top 50 Players list in 2019, coming in at number 35.
As for Larose, he faces the most unique set of challenges among all his predecessors. With the Eagles out of action since November 18th, a game that saw him score once and add a pair of helpers, the veteran blueliner resumed play last Friday night against the Charlottetown Islanders. Will Larose continue on this historic clip? It will be very interesting to find out!