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Our 18 | Foreurs hope to strike gold with homegrown talent

 

The Val d’Or Foreurs have been a sub-.500 team each of the last three seasons. However, if last year was any indication, the club is poised to turn those defeats into victories in quick fashion.

The Foreurs improved by 12 points in 2018-19 while leapfrogging three teams in the standings over the final stages of the regular season. They carried that momentum into the postseason where they took the Victoriaville Tigres to overtime in Game 7 before succumbing.

Many of the key players that experienced that series are back in the fold this season. Though they have lost top scorer Julien Tessier and number one defenseman Felix Boivin to graduation, a solid core remains. This includes forwards Nicholas Ouellet, Peyton Hoyt and Jeremy Michel, the latter a selection of the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

The back end will be led by another Blues draftee in overager David Noel, as well as 2019 Ottawa Senators selection Maxence Guenette. 2018 QMJHL first rounder Jeremie Biakabutuka should see increased ice time in all situations after accounting himself very well during his rookie campaign. Between the pipes, Jonathan Lemieux is coming off a 19-win season that saw him earn the starter’s job in the postseason.

General Manager Pascal Daoust and Head Coach Pascal Rheaume have been content to build this Foreurs squad methodically, through the development route. As a result, the key newcomers to the club for 2019-2020 have arrived via draft selections. This includes Justin Robidas, the second overall pick in the 2019 QMJHL Draft, who put on an offensive clinic during the Quebec Midget AAA season and, eventually, the Telus Cup with the Magog Cantonniers. The club will also feature a pair of rookie European centers as Latvian Rudolfs Polcs and Russian Alexander Mirzabalayev get set to make their “Q” debuts.

The Foreurs have built a solid foundation over the past few years. The time is fast approaching for the end result to hit the ice and raise the roof at the Air Creebec Center.

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2018-2019 Foreurs Stats:

Team Record 25-36-4-3 — 57 points
Division Ranking 2nd West
Conference Ranking 5th Western
League Ranking 13th
Home Record 16-16-2-0
Away Record 9-20-2-3
GF 186
GA 283
PP (Overall) (61/266) 22.9%
PK (Overall) (62/235) 73.6%
Leading Rookie (PTS) Gaucher (12-12-24)
Leading Scorers (PTS) Tessier (22-42-64)
  Boivin (10-44-54)
  Ouellet (22-23-45)
  Michel (16-26-42)
  Kozlov (16-20-36)
2019 Playoffs Lost in 1st round (3-4 vs. VIC)

 

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