Forward will return to Charlottetown Friday against Saint John Sea Dogs
© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Charlottetown Islanders’ Yan-Pavel Laplante has not played at home since last season’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
Yan-Pavel Laplante remembers April 1, 2013, very well.
The then 17-year-old scored his first Quebec Major Junior Hockey League hat trick in a 4-3 triple overtime loss to the Val-d’Or Foreurs.
“I think it was one of the best games of my life,” he said Thursday. But “it didn’t end up like we wanted.”
Two of Laplante’s goals came in the third period as the then P.E.I. Rocket looked to stave off elimination in Game 6 of the playoffs. The second-year forward rose to the occasion, with a flare for the dramatics, in front of more than 3,300 fans at the Charlottetown Civic Centre.
It was the last time he played for the P.E.I. Rocket and the last time he played in front of the hometown crowd.
That changes Friday as he pulls on the Charlottetown Islanders jersey for the first time at home. He played two games on the road last weekend.
“I can’t wait to play my first game here at home,” Laplante said before Thursday’s practice. “Put the jersey on and see the crowd and see the fans again. I missed that since last year. It’s going to be great.”
He knows he will be counted on for more offensive production this season with Ben Duffy and Josh Currie, two of the league’s top three scorers from a year ago, graduated from junior.
“You can’t be Duffy and you can’t be Currie,” Laplante said.
But he knows he can be a leader for the young team this season while remaining a defensively responsible player.
“I am different that Currie, but there are parts of what he did and what he was doing that is an example I want to follow a little bit as a leader.”
Laplante was limited to 18 games last season after suffering a shoulder injury while playing with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament in the summer of 2012. He showed enough to get drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes with the first pick of the third round of this year’s NHL Draft and received an invite to its training camp.
“The most exciting part of the camp was when the pros came in for the main camp and I was on the ice with (Antoine) Vermette and (Keith) Yandle,” he said.
Now back in junior for his third season, Laplante has been centreing a line with Kameron Kielly and Matej Beran this season.
“He’s a great player,” Kielly said. “He makes everyone around him better.”
He added the line has been clicking early in the season.
“Beran has a great shot and we look to get it to him as much as we can.”
Matt Bursey said Laplante brings the full package to the Islanders lineup.
“He’s one of the best players in the league,” Bursey said. “He brings speed. He’s a leader. . . He’s tough. He can score. He can do everything.”
But Laplante, known to his teammates as Pavs, is more concerned about team goals. He is pleased by the Islanders early season success, but said it is easy to keep things in perspective living in the present.
“When you get to the rink . . . it’s a new game,” he said.
“You don’t think about the four-game win streak. . . You can’t take Saint John easily.”
u Team – Charlottetown Islanders, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
u Position – Centre
u Size – Six feet, 172 pounds
u Hometown – Ste-Matine, Que.
u Age – 18
u NHL – Phoenix Coyotes drafted Laplante with the first pick of the third round, 62 overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft.
u Stats -
Year GP G A Pt PIM
2013-14 2 2 1 3 2
2012-13 18 5 8 13 12
2011-12 57 6 15 21 33
Sea Dogs at Islanders
u When – Tonight at 7 p.m.
u Where – Eastlink Centre.
u Records - Charlottetown: 4-0, first place in the Maritimes Division; Saint John: 2-1-0-1, second place in the Maritimes Division.
u Head-to-head – The Islanders defeated the Sea Dogs 3-2 in a shootout Sunday in Saint John.
u Top scorers - Charlottetown: Jack Nevins (two goals, four assists in four games), Matej Beran and Kameron Kielly (each have a goal, four assists in four games); Saint John: Stephen Anderson (two goals, two assists in four games), Michael Abbot and Oliver Cooper (each have a goal and three assists in four games).