The Timmins Rock continue to tinker with their roster, as they signed 20-year-old free agent forward David Laroche this past weekend.
“We reached out to him once we noticed he became a free agent,” said Rock general manager Kevin Peever.
“We spoke to him, and we’ve heard some great things about him, and decided to bring him in here. He adds experience and depth to our lineup.”
Peever said most of the roster moves the team makes is with a goal of having the player for multiple seasons, and hopefully to have a perennially strong team of returnees. This isn’t the case with Laroche, as he’s in his final year of junior eligibility.
“This was one where we decided to add some leadership and depth, and a little more scoring punch up front,” said Peever.
Not that the team is particularly lacking in scoring forwards, but Laroche adds several elements to the team that may have been lost when dynamic winger and playoff standout Keegan McMullen made the OHL’s Peterborough Petes out of training camp — speed, shiftiness, and the ability to overwhelm defenders one-on-one.
Laroche, a 5-9, 195-pound left winger, who hails from Stoke, Que. (near Sherbrooke), was in Timmins for less than 24 hours when he first donned the maroon and gold on Sunday afternoon against the Soo Thunderbirds.
Without a single practice or any in-depth knowledge of Beer’s systems, Laroche was given some big minutes right away, skating on the team’s first line with dependable veterans Derek Seguin and Riley Robitaille, as well as power-play minutes.
Head coach Corey Beer, in describing what Laroche brings to the team, said he is a “20-year-old scorer, he’s got a great shot. He fit in really nicely with our top two guys, Seguin and Robitaille. He’ll certainly be a guy who contributes offensively, which is great. You can never have too much offence. I think he’ll be a great addition for us moving forward.”
Laroche was noticeable on many of his shifts. He wired a wrist shot off the post in the third period, as well as a beautiful series of dekes around multiple Thunderbird defenders before being denied by Soo goalie Colin Ahern, which got a big rise out of the crowd. Laroche finished with one assist, and was pleased with the start to his Rock tenure.
“I felt good,” Laroche said, after the game. “I wish it went in, but I guess you can’t have them all. But it was my first game back in like a week and a half, so I’ll take what I can get, and keep going from there.
“We played great. Masternak was awesome in net, and both my linemates set me up for good opportunities, it was awesome.”
Peever noted an interesting connection.
“Funny story, a guy I played junior with back in Brockville for a couple years, I found out after bringing him up, that my buddy and his dad work together. So it’s another old hockey connection, and my buddy says nothing but great things about him. We’re happy to bring him into the Rock family, and have him finish his junior career here,” said Peever.
For Laroche, the NOJHL will be the fifth junior league he’s played in, having previous experience in Quebec, British Columbia, and two Southern Ontario leagues. He’s looking to cement a spot in Beer’s regular rotation on a deep Timmins Rock club that has serious aspirations this season. But this team’s competitive culture is also built around making every player feel integral and welcome from both the team and its fans, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I think it’s great. The boys are awesome. They’ve made me feel at home since I’ve gotten here,” said Laroche. “The team is awesome, and the town, from what I’ve seen is great.”