The wait is almost over for Yan-Pavel Laplante.
The second-year P.E.I. Rocket forward is expected to play his first game of the season Thursday in Saint John against the Sea Dogs.
“I am excited,” he said before Tuesday’s practice. “It’s so hard seeing the boys play, every practice and every game.”
Laplante has been sidelined all season after requiring shoulder surgery following the Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament in August. Laplante hit a player in his first game at the tournament and his shoulder popped out.
“I played all the tournament with my shoulder injured,” he said.
In the final, he got hit and the left shoulder popped out again, but he doesn’t regret playing injured.
“It was the best tournament of my life, so I didn’t think about it,” said Laplante, who had a goal and an assist in five games.
“We won the gold medal and after that I decided to take the surgery and take the time to get better. . .
“It was fun. It was so great to play with the best players in the world.”
Following surgery, Laplante trained in the gym to stay in shape and worked up to being able to skate with the team for non-contact drills. He has been taking contact the past few weeks in practice and is looking forward to pulling the Rocket uniform on and helping his team improve in the standings.
The team is excited to have him back.
“That’s huge,” captain Josh Currie said. “We haven’t really had a full team in the lineup. With a guy like Laplante, a young, really skilled 17-year-old, that just adds more depth to our offence.”
Coach Gordie Dwyer expects Laplante to impact the team once he gets up to game speed.
“I know he’s chomping at the bit and he’s going to bring a different element to our lineup up front,” he said. “He’s gritty, has a tremendous amount of speed and plays a pretty exciting style.”
He sees Laplante playing in the top-six forwards and is considering playing him between wingers Louick Marcotte and Victor Provencher.
While it is his draft year, Laplante said he’s not worried about trying to impress scouts. He just wants to work hard, play his game and let everything else take care of itself.