In every player’s career there are those games that stick with you, the ones you never forget.
For Victoriaville Tigres winger Pascal Laberge, that night came on January 28, 2016. Then 17-years-old, Laberge played on a line alongside Pierre-Luc Dubois (then of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) and Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), getting in on all three goals in a thrilling 3-2 Team Orr victory in the 2016 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
With hundreds of scouts in the building and 10,113 in attendance at the Pacific Coliseum, Laberge scored a pair of goals and set up Dubois for the game winner on a two-on-one with 8:25 remaining in the third period. He received Jim Gregory Player of the Game honours for Team Orr after his big performance.
“It’s my best hockey memory so far,” Laberge said as he looked back on the night. “It went well for me. The three of us played together like we had been on the same line for a long time.”
With his big performance in Vancouver combined with 68 points (23-45–68) over 56 games in Victoriaville, Laberge drew the attention of the Philadelphia Flyers who selected him in the second round with the 36th overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo.
“When I had my interviews with them they mentioned the game and said they really liked how I played,” he said of Flyers brass. “The game is a nice opportunity to show people what you can do.”
Following in Laberge’s footsteps is another Tigres player, one that already received an ‘A’ rating on NHL Central Scouting’s November Players to Watch List – designating him as a player that could potentially be selected in the first round of the draft.
While Laberge is a former second overall pick in the QMJHL Draft, 17-year-old Tigres teammate Maxime Comtois was selected third overall a year later in 2015. He wasted little time making an impression, recording 60 points (26-34–60) as a rookie in Victoriaville last season.
Comtois will be representing Team Cherry at the 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Quebec City on January 30th.
“I’m going to tell him not to put too much pressure on himself,” said Laberge when asked what advice he’d give his younger teammate in advance of the big game. “I know I was pretty stressed before the puck dropped, but after my first shift I realized that I could play with everyone on the ice. It’s a once in a lifetime thing, so I will tell him to make sure he really enjoys it.”
Centre Vidéotron, the brand new 18,259-seat home of the Québec Remparts will host the game, providing players a state-of-the-art venue for one of the biggest games of their young careers.
“I think the boys are going to love it,” said Laberge of the facility. “It’s a National Hockey League building, it’s exactly the type of thing you’ll see in the show.”
The 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is another big step on the road to ‘the show’ as 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible players go head-to-head in Québec City on January 30th.