They’re on top of the standings, have scored the most goals in the QMJHL and have surrendered the least. The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies make their second appearance in the Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings this Week coming off a 9-0 win over Drummondville on Saturday.
Led by QMJHL scoring leader Peter Abbandonato and elder statesman Samuel Harvey between the pipes, the Huskies are off to a 9-1 start, outscoring opponents 52-24.
Harvey is fresh off becoming the 14th goaltender to join the QMJHL’s 100-win club, recording the 12th shutout of his career on Saturday.
“What a feeling,” he told le Citoyen’s Jean-Francois Vachon post-game. “It was one of my goals to start the season and I wanted to get it as soon as possible.”
He went on to thank career contributors in coaches Gilles Bouchard, Joey Perricone, Dany Sabourin, Mario Pouliot and all of his teammates past and present for helping him achieve the milestone.
The head coach of the 100th Memorial Cup Champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Pouliot joined the Huskies over the offseason, taking on general manager responsibilities in the process. He commandeers a club that features five remaining members of the Huskies’ 2016 QMJHL Championship team in Harvey, Abbandonato, forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard and blueliners Jacob Neveu and Zachary Lauzon (injured).
One of the newest additions to the club, Boston Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko has burst onto the scene with five points (3-2–5) through his first five games after returning from NHL camp. He made an immediate impression on Pouliot.
“He’s a player with a lot of potential,” said Pouliot, who returns to Rouyn-Noranda after serving as an assistant coach with the Huskies in 2013-14. “He has a lot of speed and is very good with the puck. We want to give him time to acclimatize. His speed, his hockey sense, his hands and his shot will make him a major asset for our team.”
Joining Abbandonato (4-16–20) and Lauko on the Rouyn-Noranda attack has been Harvey-Pinard (4-10–14), sophomore centreman Vincent Marleau (6-9–15), 19-year-old Felix Bibeau (7-5–12) and Slovakian winger Patrik Hrehorcak (8-2–10). Justin Bergeron has chipped in offensively from the blue line with nine points (3-6–9) in 10 games.
Second-year draft eligible winger Alex Beaucage, who put up 13 goals in his rookie season, has recorded nine points (4-5–9) through his first 10 games. He was included on NHL Central Scouting’s October Players to Watch List as a ‘C’ rated prospect.
A team that has played consistent hockey and surrendered less than 200 goals in each of the past three seasons under Gilles Bouchard, Pouliot has taken the reins and inherited arguably the QMJHL’s best one-two goaltending punch with Harvey and San Jose Sharks prospect Zachary Emond as the last line of defence.
The Huskies have enjoyed seven of their 10 games thus far from the comforts of home, but hit the road for a challenge this weekend. They’ll visit last week’s top-ranked CHL club the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (8-2-0-0) on Friday and Saturday before taking on the Chicoutimi Sagueneens (5-3-1-1) on Sunday.
The KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight takes a closer look at one team from the weekly KIA CHL Top 10 Rankings.
Past KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight editions:
Sept. 26, 2018 – Halifax Mooseheads
Oct. 4, 2018 – London Knights
Oct. 11, 2018 – Victoria Royals