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Mooseheads' Raphael Lavoie, a power forward, ready for the NHL draft


Halifax Mooseheads forward Raphael Lavoie is showing he can do a little bit of everything ahead of the NHL draft.

Score, hit, even chirp.

"Game gets hard and sometimes, it happens that we say love words to each other, I think it's part of the game," said Lavoie.

The 18-year-old from Chambly, Que., is the top-ranked draft-eligible player at the Memorial Cup and is heading to Sunday's final after producing a goal, assist and 12 shots on net in three round-robin games.

Lavoie's blend of soft hands and strength were on full display in the Mooseheads' 4-2 round-robin win over the Guelph Storm.

First he made a strong solo effort, heading down the ice 1-on-2 while short-handed and splitting the Storm defence with a toe drag for a highlight-reel goal.

Then, as the game got more physical, he didn't shy away and won a 1-on-1 battle with Guelph blue liner Sean Durzi by overpowering him and sending him crashing into the net. Lavoie even had a few choice words for Durzi after the whistle.

"You need to be mobile, strong on your feet because guys are gonna push you," said Lavoie. "I have a pretty big body, try and use it as much as I can. Hockey is physical, you need to hit."

Mooseheads coach Eric Veilleux added: "He's a good two-way player, works hard and can defend. He does it all on the ice, loves taking the puck to the net ... For me, he's a complete player."

The six-foot-four, 198-pound Lavoie is powerful and deceptively mobile, and a threat to score with his wrist shot any time he cuts across the opposition's blue line.

He considers himself a natural power forward that prefers to play the wing, but can shift to centre when needed.

"I don't mind being described as that," he said.

Lavoie finished his third season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 32 goals and 73 points in 62 games. He slid seven spots on Central Scouting's prospect rankings from No. 13 at the midterm to No. 20 before the post-season began, but might have played his way back up the chart with his run of scoring to get his Mooseheads to the QMJHL final and Memorial Cup championship.

Lavoie scored 17 times in his first 16 playoff games before ending the post-season first in goals (20) and second in points (32).

"He has an NHL top-notch shot," said Veilleux.

Linemate Samuel Asselin says at times in the post-season, Lavoie put his teammates on his back.

"He really, really improved his game during the playoff run and since then he's been so good for us," said Asselin. 

Lavoie's Sept. 25 birthday had him miss last year's draft by just days of eligibility, allowing him one more season of junior before an NHL team decides where to take him. He was awarded the Mike Bossy Trophy, given to the QMJHL's "best professional prospect."

Lavoie says there is still plenty of work he needs to do in the off-season if he wants to take the next step. Right now, he's only focused on winning the "Holy Grail" of junior hockey and that he'll turn his focus to the NHL draft when the Memorial Cup is finished.

"I feel like I need to get stronger so I can get faster, hit harder too. That's what I'll be working on off the ice this summer," said Lavoie.

"I try to keep (the draft) out of my head, I'm focusing on how we are playing as a team winning games in the championship and then I'll focus on myself."

Halifax awaits the winner of the Friday's Memorial Cup semifinal between the Guelph Storm and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

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Kyle Cicerella, The Canadian Press