HALIFAX– Samuel Asselin loves to score. Particularly on stages where expectations and stakes are an all-time high. The Halifax Mooseheads forward, who generated 48 goals and 38 assists in the regular season, continued to impress on the Memorial Cup stage, tallying a goal and an assist in his team’s 4-1 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders.
Given the shortness of the tournament, Asselin knows the importance of winning the first game of the Memorial Cup.
“It’s huge,” said Asselin after the game. “The first win, get the monkey off your back and I think that’s what we did.”
Samuel Asselin Goal Scoring Ability an Asset in QMJHL
It was clear from early on that Samuel Asselin would be a stellar hockey player. A native of L’Assomption, Quebec, Asselin would be drafted to the Shawnigan Cataractes, after a promising Triple AAA career. In his early years with Shawnigan, the young forward possessed high hockey IQ, setting up his teammates with scoring opportunities.
But there was doubt whether Asselin, only 5’10, could become a prolific scorer. Prompting a trade from Shawnigan to Acadie-Bathurst Titan, halfway through the 2017-18 QMJHL season. It was his experience playing with the Titan where Asselin transformed from a role player into one of the best scorers in the QMJHL.
During Acadie-Bathurst Titan’s run to the QMJHL Championship, Asselin generated three goals and eight assists. This momentum translated to the Memorial Cup, where Asselin put together six points (five goals, one assist) including the game-winning goal to give the Titan its first Memorial Cup in franchise history. This performance, in front of a plethora of scouts and raucous junior hockey fans, caught the attention of Halifax Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell, who brought Asselin into his team at the start of this season.
“He’s such a complete player,” Russell noted. “He’s a competitor. He brings a level of skill that I think is underrated. He plays big in big games and provides great leadership. To add Samuel to the mix was important for us.”
Samuel Asselin’s Veteran Experience Will Help Halifax at Memorial Cup
Samuel Asselin is currently undrafted with the NHL. He was invited last year to the Columbus Blue Jackets training camp but failed to sign a contract. After leading the QMJHL scoring this season, Asselin hopes that a solid Memorial Cup performance will enable his career trajectory to the NHL.
Before being traded to Halifax, Asselin’s career high in goals was 17. But a switch in the lineup from Halifax Mooseheads’ head coach Eric Veilleux, moving Asselin to the first line, propelled the 20-year-old prospect to generate more offense.
“After Christmas, I had no choice but to move him to the first line,” said Veilleux. “A big addition for our team.”
The Mooseheads are the host team at this year’s Memorial Cup and are no stranger to success at this tournament. In 2013, led by Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, Halifax earned the holy grail of junior hockey. Now, Halifax is looking to continue the momentum, after beating the WHL champion Prince Albert Raiders, who advanced to the Memorial Cup with a Game 7 overtime victory.
“Confidence is key,” said Asselin. “I had my chances every year I just didn’t put the puck in. This year everything I touched went in.”