Blend of skill, physical play key to Lavallee’s success with Bombers

Confidence can go a long way for a hockey player.

It has been a key part of Flin Flon Bombers forward Jason Lavallee’s success this season. After recording four points in three games last weekend, Lavallee and linemate Greyson Reitmeier were tied for the team lead with 26 points. Since Oct. 21, Lavallee has posted 17 points (excluding last night’s game).

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“I think it is only a thing of confidence,” Lavallee said before the road trip of his success as of late. “Everything I do right now is working the right way.”

Flin Flon head coach Mike Reagan said that Lavallee, a Thetford-Mines, Que., product, has been the player the squad expected him to be at the beginning of the year.

“He is probably the most skilled guy we got on the team,” Reagan said.

“He has looked engaged and hungry. When you have a guy as skilled as him hungry, I think that’s a dangerous weapon.”

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Lavallee has a strong skill set with good hands and a heavy shot, Reagan said.

Lavallee does not shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He leads the Bombers with 60 penalty minutes.

“He has an edge to his game,” Reagan said. “He can play in the hard areas. … He loves to hit.”

Lavallee has had success as of late on a line with fellow 20-year-old Reitmeier and rookie Nate Hooper. Hooper, 18, has 12 points, including seven in November. Reitmeier is strong on the forecheck and opens more ice for Lavallee.

 “I love playing with Lavs,” Reitmeier said before the road trip. “He’s one of those guys that are easy to play with. He works hard and wins battles and if you get him the puck there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to score with the shot he has. We’ve been pretty hot lately and it’s been a lot of fun with him on my line.”

Lavallee is in his second season with the Bombers. After leading the Sorel-Tracy Rebelles to a Quebec College Hockey League championship as an 18-year-old, he started his 19-year-old season with the perennially strong Penticton Vees of the BCHL.

When offensive-minded defenceman Joel Webb asked for a trade, something the Bombers knew was a possibility when they acquired him two summers ago, Flin Flon looked to make a deal.

They had picked up Joseph Leonidas to provide offence on the blue line. In a three-way deal, the Bombers sent Webb to the AJHL while getting Lavallee from Penticton.

Initially Lavallee was leery about joining the Bombers.

“But after my first week here my mind changed and I saw that Flin Flon was a great organization,” he said.

“What I enjoy the most is playing in the Whitney Forum. We got some ‘crazy’ fans and I like it.”

Reagan said coming to the Bombers was an opportunity for Lavallee to play a larger offensive role than he did with the Vees.

Last season, Lavallee ended up tied with Leonidas for fourth on the team in scoring. He had 33 points in 39 games.

That scoring success has continued this season. In addition, he has been a good fit with the team off the ice.

“He has really opened up this year,” Reagan said. “He is a prankster. He likes to joke around.”

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