Each week we take an in-depth look at young members of the organization while providing an overview of Habs prospects playing at the junior (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) and collegiate level (USHL, NCAA).
Alexandre Alain, #7, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
With his assist on Wednesday night, Alexandre Alain is now up to 30 points in 20 playoff games. He is only behind Drake Batherson in points in the post-season and has been one of the driving forces behind the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada's success.
In Game Four of the series, Alain picked up the puck after a turnover in the defensive zone and raced to the other end. He found himself in a one-on-one with the defender, but instead of taking his chance at beating him for a shot, he skated wide to open up space for his teammates who were closely following him. By pushing the defender back, he then easily slid the puck over to Anthony Poulin, who beat the Titan's goalie, getting his team on the board in this important game. The Armada went on to tie the series 2-2.
Acadie-Bathurst is a strong and experienced team, and Blainville-Boisbriand will continue to need the contribution of all of their top players if they want to win the QMJHL championship. With how the Titan have been playing, it looks like they could go all the way.
The good news for the Armada is that the newly signed Habs prospect has proven to be quite the game-breaker, especially with his five-point performance on May 1: Game Seven of the series between Blainville and Charlottetown. The match that got the Armada a ticket to the President Trophy Final was a memorable night, and Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins, in attendance for the game, could contemplate what Alain does best: get in good positions for his releases.
His favorite spot is at the top of the left faceoff circle. Sitting on his off side, he can fire effective one-timers that also become unpredictable for goalies as he can beat them by firing anywhere on net. He scored two of his goals this way, and completed the hat trick by finding a loose puck around the crease.
Highlights from Game 7.
In that same game, Alain also assisted on the last goal and on the game-winning goal on a short-handed two-on-one on. He shot off a great pass by Alex Barré-Boulet, and although it was stopped by the goalie, it fell on the ice to be pushed in.
The duo of the Armada continues to make its mark in those playoffs, fighting to keep playing as long as possible with a Memorial Cup participation in sight.
Game Five between Acadie-Bathurst and Blainville-Boisbriand is Friday night.
William Bitten #14, Hamilton Bulldogs
With Sportsnet broadcasting Game Four of the Hamilton Bulldogs versus the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, William Bitten didn't want to be left out of the national spotlight. Coming in one-on-one versus Rasmus Sandin, he tried a few of his stickhandling moves against him, managing a backhand shot after moving the defender around.
Bitten never gives up on a play and will outwork everyone else to get the puck on net. This attempt was both a demonstration of this quality and of the forward's underrated hands. It was also a break from the mostly conservative play that he has been showing in these playoffs.
There were some other moments where Bitten shone early in the series versus the Greyhounds. He scored another great breakaway goal in Game Three, a contest the Bulldogs won 6-5.
He beat the defender to the loose puck, gained a step over him and entered the offensive zone. This time he didn't overthink what he was going to do alone against the goalie. He went forehand, backhand, and roofed the puck with a quick return to the forehand. His speed, combined with the precise lift, didn't give any chance to the netminder, who saw the puck fly above his shoulder.
However, the Greyhounds goalie took his revenge later in the game by stopping a puck that was batted out of mid-air on a two-on-one by Bitten. It would have been one of the best goals scored in this season’s playoffs.
Game Five of the Hamilton Bulldogs versus the Sault-Ste-Marie Greyhounds is Friday night.
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CHL playoff performance
|Hayden Verbeek||C||OHL||Sault Ste. Marie||11||4||3||7|
|Josh Brook||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||10||1||5||6|
CHL season performance
|Hayden Verbeek||C||OHL||Sault Ste. Marie||67||30||31||61|
|Josh Brook||RD||WHL||Moose Jaw||45||3||29||32|
NCAA/USHL season performance
|Jake Evans||C||Big Ten||Notre Dame||40||13||33||46|
|Ryan Poehling||C||NCHC||St. Cloud State||36||14||17||31|