Rock ink Piquette

Timmins Rock coach Corey Beer welcomes 2000-birth-year forward Maxime Piquette to the fold at the Campus Ice Centre & Field House in Oshawa on Sunday. Piquette is one of seven players the Rock signed following a two-day prospect camp in the southern Ontario city. The identities of the other six can not be released, however, until their contracts have cleared the Hockey Canada registry. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)

TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock have officially announced the signing of forward Maxime Piquette, one of seven players selected for the squad from this past weekend’s prospect camp in Oshawa.

Piquette, who spent the 2017-18 campaign with the GMHL’s West Nipissing Lynx, impressed the Rock coaching staff with his speed and skill.

“He is a guy who might have had the chance to play midget hockey in North Bay or Sudbury, but the drive might have been too much for him and his family,” said Rock coach Corey Beer.

“He is a guy who has a very good skill set. He has elite speed and he can absolutely fly out there.

“At 5-9, he might be a tad undersized, but he is one of those guys who is going to be a creative playmaker.

“He will add skill right through our lineup and be able to play anywhere. We envision him in a Top 9 role, maybe on the third line kind of thing, but he will likely have the ability to jump up the lineup and contribute that way, as well.”

Piquette’s combination of speed and skill fits right in with what the Rock are looking for from their forward units this season.

“We made it pretty clear that we were looking for an injection of skill this year,” Beer said.

“It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, we want as much speed and skill as possible to make sure we can play the type of game our team likes to play.

“Maxime is certainly the kind of guy who can come in and help support that with speed and skill throughout our lineup whether he finds himself in a penalty kill situation or on the power play remains to be seen, but we are definitely very intrigued and very excited about the prospect of what he can become in a year or two.

“He is a guy who probably has two or three years of eligibility with us and we think he has a very high ceiling.”

Piquette (36, 6 -10-16, 10) demonstrated some of that offensive potential last season with the Lynx.

It was his second year in the GMHL and he demonstrated improvement on his rookie campaign (40, 2-12-14, 52).

Piquette liked what he saw during the Rock’s prospect camp and he is looking forward to playing for the organization in 2018-19.

“Things went pretty well down there,” said the 2000-birth-year Verner native.

“They had some pretty good players on the ice, we all got lots of ice time and the coaching staff was great and the organization seems very good.”

Piquette did not know any of the players on the ice before hand, but he does know new teammate Riley Brousseau, a Timmins Majors grad who signed with the Rock earlier this off season.

He is looking forward to getting to know Brousseau and his other new teammates better when the NOJHL squad’ main camp gets underway in August.

“I have heard the NOJHL is a great league, there is good competition and there are lots of players who either move up to major junior hockey or to play in the NCAA or CIS,” he said.

Unlike some of his new teammates, Piquette has been to Timmins many times in the past and has some great memories of the city and the McIntyre Arena.

“I visited there a couple of times for hockey tournaments and I really enjoyed it,” he said.

“The McIntyre Arena is one of the nicest arenas in the North and when I was there we actually won the NOHAs in bantam and went on to play in the OHFs. That was a great experience.”

Fans who have not seen the 5-9, 155 pound forward in action can expect to see the combination or speed and skill Beer referred to in his assessment of the 18 year old.

“I like to play a fast, energetic style of game and I like to play on both sides of the puck, offensively and defensively,” he said.

“I like to take care of my own zone.”

Growing up, Piquette tried to pattern his game after Carl Hagelin, of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“He is a fast, fast player who plays responsibly in both ends of the ice,” he said.

“He plays the game the right way.”

Piquette knows making the jump from the GMHL to the NOJHL will not be easy.

“I think one of the biggest adjustments is going to be that the NOJHL is a lot more physical,” he said.

“I think the play is going to be a lot more structured and disciplined, as well.

“I had a great time playing for the Lynx in my hometown, but I am looking forward to gaining some new experiences playing in the NOJHL.

“I really want to further myself and my hockey career.”

A number of Piquette’s former teammates have gone on to play in the NOJHL.

“They have all told me it is a great league and one that is very competitive,” he said.

With the addition of Piquette, the Rock now officially have eight players signed for 2018-19 — although they have six others from last weekend’s prospect camp inked waiting for the contracts to clear the Hockey Canada registry.

Piquette is joined up front by returning veterans Stewart Parnell and A.J. Campbell, as well as former affiliate players Riley Brousseau and Austin Holmes and newcomer Joshua Kego.

Blue-liners signed to date include returning veteran Will Caston and newcomer Carson Burlington.