LAVAL – Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s season is like a spot the seven mistakes game, the concept of which the author didn’t understand. The two drawings are completely identical.
We like to forget it, but the fiery number 11 Laval Rocket had started the year neutral. Just one goal and four points in his first 13 games. Things picked up again in December, and he caught fire in February, finishing the season top of his team’s goalscoring chart.
Déjà vu impression at the beginning of this series. Harvey-Pinard spent nine games unsuccessfully searching for the back of the net. He eventually unlocked in Game 2 of the Eastern Finals against the Springfield Thunderbirds. Since then he has not stopped scoring.
Harvey-Pinard scored for the fourth straight game at the Place Bell on Saturday. His brace gave Rocket a 2-0 lead at halftime. The cushion eventually deflated, but the “HP”-inspired game remained one of the hot topics near the losers’ locker room.
“He’s been good since the start of the playoffs,” corrected his captain, Xavier Ouellet. I know people talked about him not scoring but he played well. Now it’s right. That’s how it is sometimes in hockey. He creates things, he gives us energy. He struggles all the time and lately he’s been rewarded. It is to be hoped that he will continue to do so. »
“If I’ve made an adjustment, I may net more pucks,” reflected RHP. But beyond that, I kept the same identity. It’s trust. I knew that marking the first one would unlock it. I’m more confident with my racquet, I’m making more plays and that helps. »
Harvey-Pinard, the hero of the day’s overtime win, launched hostilities during a power play midway through the first period. After depriving the Thunderbirds of a chance to score quality with the help of a five-star defensive retreat, the Jonquiérois himself returned to set up the Laval attack in enemy territory. Placed between the circles, he deflected a shot from Sami Niku behind goalkeeper Charlie Lindgren.
“He made quite a game before scoring that goal. He crossed the length of the field to pick up an opponent’s racquet, his coach Jean-François Houle was impressed to mention. It shows what’s in his stomach. Everyone looks at it and is inspired by it. »
He did it again in the middle of the second. While still prowling at the bottom of the crease, he jumped on the return of a throw from Ouellet and redirected it into the blue color. The puck bounced off defenseman Brady Lyle and bounced behind the goalie.
His contribution was also felt in a man down who played seven times and fizzled out.
We wondered if we’d see him again in overtime after seeing him make a fierce check in the final minute of the third, but he was indeed in position to start the sudden death. He was the focus of his team’s defensive efforts, although we saw him return to the bench with a limp after more difficult presences.
“He’s been fantastic since I’ve been here,” said Devante Smith-Pelly. When I first saw him play, he immediately reminded me of him [Brendan Gallagher]. They are identical. They fall into the net, they stop at nothing. And without taking anything away from my good friend Gally, I think Raf is a little bit more talented than him. He’s beautiful to look at and I hope what he achieves in this series will drive him on [vers le prochain niveau]. He was probably our best player. »
Harvey-Pinard is indeed the Canadian hope of all those playing at Rocket who seems most likely to find a niche at the big club. But that’s not what he’s thinking right now.
“It’s been a big year for me. I’ve had great experiences. I played my first game in the National League, I dated NHL boys. To be in the playoffs right now is incredible. And I don’t want it to end I want this to last as long as possible. »