When Alexis Lafreniere steps onto the ice for the Rimouski Oceanic, his presence is immediately known. Look no further than today’s performance against the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Down 2-0 heading into the third period, Lafreniere took control of the game. Generating three assists that led to goals. On Rimouski’s third power play of the game, Lafreniere wound up and fired a blistering wrist shot that his teammate Jimmy Huntington tipped into the net. It would be the go-ahead goal that gave Rimouski a 4-2 victory. But it demonstrated how at just 17 years old, Lafreniere is becoming the game’s next big prodigy.
“Sometimes I have to shut my mouth, I don’t want to put him in a box.” Rimouski head coach Serge Beausoleil said. “I want him to be creative. He’s always two steps ahead when he plays and he sees a lot of things most hockey guys cannot see, so we have to let him play.”
Alexis Lafreniere Yearns Being the Best
Growing up just outside of Montreal in the suburb of Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Alexis Lafreniere was immersed in the hockey culture at a young age. Everywhere he looked, the red and blue of the Montreal Canadiens would stare right back. Needling him to pick up the game of hockey.
As the number one pick in the 2017 QMJHL Priority Draft, expectations were high for the young prospect. Rimouski saw a high-impact forward in Lafreniere. Someone who can control and take over games with his hockey IQ. He commands the puck. He has a strong stick-handling ability and can use his long skating strides to speed into the attacking zone and create scoring opportunities.
All of these skills led to Lafreniere having a historical rookie season. With 42 goals and 38 assists, the youngster generated the most goals since his Rimouski predecessor Sidney Crosby. Lafreniere also made an instant impact on the international stage. He helped Canada at both the U17 (3 G, 3 A) and U18 championships (4 G, 2 A) with his offensive prowess.
“I had no real expectations but it was a pretty good season,” said Lafreniere.
Lafreniere Ready for World Juniors Opportunity
Last week, Alexis Lafreniere got the call that he would join 34 other young Canadians, as they try to make the U-20 IIHF World Junior Championship team. Most 17-year-olds do not get this opportunity. There is a lot to refine in their game before competing at that high level.
But for Lafreniere, he is already checking the right boxes in becoming hockey’s next top star. With 17 goals and 37 assists this season for Rimouski, the Montreal native is becoming a force on the ice. Utilizing his speed and playmaking ability to set up his teammates with scoring chances. As Beausoleil states, generating consistency in his game is something that Lafreniere is working on so he can be an offensive playmaker every single night.
“It’s a long road, we want to push him and challenge him to gain some consistency, he’s still young at 17,” said Beausoleil. “For us, it’s to push him night after night and make sure he’s the best player on the ice.”
Rimouski will now lose its top player for a few weeks as he attempts to make the World Junior team. Sidney Crosby did the same endeavour over a decade ago. He made an instant impact for Team Canada. Alexis Lafreniere is looking to accomplish the same feat but is still focused on helping his Rimouski squad.
“World Juniors would be a huge goal if I can make it. But I am excited about helping out Rimouski as much as possible as we continue to rise in the standings,” said Lafreniere.