The Ottawa Jr. Senators left-winger Pierre-Luc Veillette has taken the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) by storm.
The 20-year-old from Drummondville, Quebec is among the league leaders in goals scored and is averaging more than a point a game with 18 goals and 13 assists, good for 31 points in 30 games.
“I’m really happy with the way the season is going,” Veillette said. “My strengths are my speed and my shot.”
The winger described his shot as being more of precision and accuracy than overpowering. Nevertheless his shot has been finding the back of the net regularly.
His production has helped the Junior Senators opened up a 14-point lead in the Yzerman Division of the CCHL.
All of this is amazing for a player who didn’t know much about Junior A hockey until a year ago. That’s when the Junior Senators head coach Martin Dagenais saw him playing with the Sorel-Tracy Rebelles in the Quebec City Hockey League. The Ottawa coach has an uncanny ability to spot talent—and Veillette was another “find.” The youngster accepted an invitation to a Junior Senators practice and went to Ottawa on Jan. 4, 2016.
“I saw what the caliber of play was and it was a great way for me to step up my game,” he said. “He (Dagenais) liked me and told me he wanted me to play for his team.”
Veillette joined the Junior Senators for the 2017-18 season knowing, from practicing with the team, what he was up against.
“The players (in the CCHL) are much bigger and faster,” he explained. “I think I’ve adapted well.”
That would be an understatement and Dagenais couldn’t be more pleased by Veillette’s play.
“Pierre-Luc has been a pleasant surprise for us,” the head coach said. “We knew we were getting a top six forward when we signed him, but we didn’t expect him to lead the league in goals scored. He brings a lot of speed to our line-up.”
There is something just as important that the coach said Veillette brings to the team. “He’s a quiet leader in the dressing room,” Dagenais added.
Making Veillette’s success all the more astounding is the fact that he’s only been a winger for a short time. For most of his career he played center. That has proven to be an advantage at his becomes more familiar with his new position. From playing center he has a better feel and vision for what is going on in front of him. That helps him anticipate plays and be one step ahead.
“I have a good eye for where the puck is going,” Veillette remarked. “I’m learning new aspects. I have to move more and stay focused on getting back on defense,” he pointed out. “I’ve kept the same mentality and I’m still trying to improve.”
Veillette still loves the role of playmaker thinking pass first. But, as a winger he’s learning to put the puck on the net when the opening is there.
“I just have to be confident with my shot,” he said.
Veillette credits his line-mates Elie Boulerice (19 points) and Darcy Walsh (21 points) for much of his success. Together they are one of most productive lines in the CCHL.
“Things have worked out pretty well,” Veillette pointed out. “We have good chemistry.”
The trio has helped team first place in the Yzerman Division with 49 points on an outstanding 23-4-1-2 record. The Junior Senators, however, are more than just the line of Veillette-Boulerice-Walsh.
“We have four lines and each line can score and are dangerous,” he said. “We have good team chemistry. We keep improving.”
Veillette knows he has joined one of the league’s premier teams.
“We have a great organization and great coaches,” he said.
Since he first laced up a pair of skates and played ice hockey as a 4-year-old, Veillette has had the same dreams of any Canadian player, the NHL. One of the best ways to get there is through NCAA Division I college hockey and that is Veillette’s goal. Playing Junior A Hockey and for the Junior Senators are a gateway to it.
“It was a great opportunity for me,” he said of joining the Junior Senators. “It gives me more visibility.”
Veillette has certainly made the most of his chance and has captured the attention of college scouts. It seems that he and the Junior Senators have been good for each other.