Raphael Lavoie (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) is a right-handed center in his third season with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Lavoie, 18, who has 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) and 101 shots on goal in 26 games this season, is an A-rated skater in NHL Central Scouting’s November Players to Watch list. He is a projected first-round candidate for the 2019 NHL Draft, which will be held at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22. Lavoie will submit a draft diary each month for NHL.com leading up to the draft.
It has been a very emotional week for me since I got the call I’d been looking forward to Sunday, which was my invitation to Canada selection camp for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The news came in kind of a unique way, while I was with the rest of my teammates on our way back to Halifax after our 4-1 win at Rimouski. Jared McIsaac (Detroit Red Wings) was sitting next to me when his phone rang. After he hung up, he told me he had been invited to the camp, so I congratulated him and started asking him for details about it. Just then my phone rang, and when I saw the call was coming from Calgary, I realized it was probably good news for me too.
It’s kind of funny because Shawn Bullock, who is Hockey Canada’s national team director, told us to keep the information confidential because they were going to announce the invitations during a press conference Monday.
We were on a bus with 22 guys, so I can tell you that our secret didn’t last very long.
At the same time we didn’t go overboard celebrating our good news because there was also disappointment for other guys, like Antoine Morand (Anaheim Ducks) and Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Ducks), who didn’t get the same call. It’s too bad they weren’t invited, but we have no control over that. The guys understand and they were happy for us.
I called my parents and my brother and sister to tell them the good news. Everyone was really happy for me, although my mother was a little disappointed. Playing in Halifax, I’m a long away from home in Quebec and the holidays offer a rare opportunity to spend time with them, so if I’m able to make the team I’ll be in Vancouver until the beginning of January. But this is one time I wouldn’t be sorry about being unable to go home. Sometimes you’ve got to take the bad with the good.
I still have three games to play with the Mooseheads before flying to Victoria, British Columbia, with Jared on Dec. 10. We’ll take part in a very intense three-day camp during which we’ll face a Canadian university all-star team.
I have not yet had any information about what Canada management wants from me; we will have that discussion when I arrive. I’m best known for my scoring skills, but I don’t think their assessment will be based solely on my production during camp. I think it’s more important to play well and to show that you’re able to take your game up a notch when it counts.
This invitation came as a bit of a surprise to me because I knew that the competition was very strong in the group, which consists mostly of players who have already been drafted by NHL teams. I knew it would be tough to get the invitation, especially as an 18-year-old. But now that I have it, I’ll make the most of my opportunity.
It would be a privilege and an honor to represent Canada in Vancouver and I’m excited just thinking about it.
Until next month, thanks for reading!