You know the Rimouski Oceanic are good when you see Logan MacMillan anchoring their checking line.
The first-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks and former scoring-line forward for the Halifax Mooseheads has taken on a new role as a grinder with Rimouski, which continues its foray into the QMJHL playoffs this weekend.
“It’s a pretty big change,” MacMillan admitted. “In Halifax, I was relied on for first line, power play, all that stuff. I got here and they have a lot of guys capable of those roles. I’m more of a checking-line, add-what-I-can kind of thing.”
The Oceanic acquired MacMillan from the Mooseheads in December for Guillaume Pelletier and draft picks. The 19-year-old from Winsloe, P.E.I., has five goals and 17 assists for 22 points in 32 games since joining Rimouski.
His linemates have been Felix Lafrancois (45 points in 59 games) and Luca Cunti (45 points in 57 games).
“I’m not expecting him to score a lot of goals,” said Rimouski head coach Clement Jodoin, a former bench boss of the Mooseheads. “He brings a presence, he has a role. He’s a big guy who can finish his checks. He’s been there before and he’s not panicking, and that’s what we need.”
The Oceanic have their hands full in the QMJHL best-of-seven quarter-final against the Moncton Wildcats. The Wildcats allowed the fewest goals in Q history, backstopped by record-setting league most valuable player Nicola Riopel.
But the Oceanic are not exactly slouches, winners of a stunning 24 of their past 25 games, including an opening-round four-game sweep of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.
Game 1 of the quarters is Friday night in Moncton.
“We have some firepower,” MacMillan said. “They have a good defensive corps but they have a few young guys. We’ll work it down low and get in front. We know their goalie was tops in the league, but we need to make it tough on him.”
Former Mooseheads blue-liner Guillaume Monast, now with the Quebec Remparts, will go up against the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the QMJHL quarter-finals.
Monast, a 20-year-old Dallas Stars prospect, had 43 points in 63 games this season and added four points in a 4-1 first-round series win over the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.
The quarter-finals begin Friday night in Quebec City.
As for local talent still alive in the playoffs, Halifax’s Andrew Roski is the last man standing.
Roski, a rookie forward for the Moncton Wildcats who had no points in five games in the first round, faces the Rimouski Oceanic.