Lavoie excited to bring scoring prowess to Steelheads lineup

Like most dynamic forwards, Zakary Lavoie loves scoring goals.

With an impressive 51 goals in 68 games to his name as a member of the Toronto Nationals last season, he’s indisputably great at scoring them, too.

“I would definitely say it’s one of my strongest abilities,” said Lavoie from his Ottawa home. “I can play a 200-foot game and pass the puck well but I’d still say my strongest skill is shooting the puck.”

That scoring prowess is among the reasons Mississauga Steelheads head coach and GM James Richmond coveted the Ottawa native all last season before choosing him seventh overall at the 2020 OHL Priority Selection last April.

“He loves scoring goals because he does it quite often. When someone is good at something, they fall in love with it,” said Richmond. “Watching him play with the Toronto Young Nats last year quite a bit, I never saw a game where he didn’t score and I probably watched him play 15 to 20 times. Win or lose, he scores.”

Having grown up a fan of the local Ottawa 67’s, the opportunity to suit up at the OHL level with the fast-paced Steelheads is a dream come true for the nearly 17-year-old, and one that still feels surreal. Awaiting a start date for the 2020-21 OHL season, he’s eager to be able to learn from his older peers in Thomas Harley, Cole Schwindt and Keean Washkurak.

“Harley is obviously a great defenceman and he played in this past World Juniors, Schwindt is a great player who was also at the World Juniors camp and Washkurak has won multiple awards for hardest worker. I’m looking forward to learning from these guys and hopefully going for a championship,” he said.

COVID-19 regulations have of course kept Lavoie and his teammates from skating together so far, but in the meantime, the team and organization have been communicating online regularly, and the dynamic right-winger has settled in well.

“Zak has fit in real nicely. When he was drafted a lot of the guys reached out to him the day of to welcome him to the Steelheads which I thought was pretty good. Sometimes you have to tell or push kids to do that but our guys are a pretty tight-knit group and Zak is fitting right in seamlessly,” continued Richmond. “I’m not surprised by it because he’s a pretty impressive young man. He’s just one of those kids that’s an elite person as well as an elite player.”

In between classes, Lavoie has been working out every day to maintain his strength and conditioning and has also joined the CCHL’s Ottawa Jr. Senators, which has provided opportunity for him to remain hockey-ready and get used to playing with and against older players.

When it comes time to get lace up with the Trout, Lavoie is confident he’ll be ready to make an immediate impact.

“I can do whatever the coach wants me to do, so when I get to Mississauga, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

And Richmond believes in his ability to do just that; not only as an elite scorer, but as the whole package.

“He’s a pretty darn good 200-foot player who comes across as a goal-scorer. We were all pretty impressed at how he breaks up plays on the defensive side as well,” said Richmond. “It’s rare you see a guy score as often as he does but also commit to playing away from the puck as well. Now we have to just bring him along and develop him into what he hopes to be: an NHL player.”

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