Thu May 03 07:15pm EDT
For a player who was traded twice on the same day and almost ended up on the Quebec Remparts, Robbie DeFulviis has certainly found a home in Rimouski, Que.
DeFulviis probably could have run for Rimouski city council this week after scoring the series-clinching overtime goal to defeat the pesky Mooseheads in six games in the QMJHL semi-final. The goal last Sunday sent the Rimouski Océanic to its first President's Cup final since Sidney Crosby and company rolled their way to a berth in the Memorial Cup seven seasons ago.
"I'm not going to lie, that was probably one of the biggest goals of my life," DeFulviis says. "To score a goal like that to put your team in the league finals is pretty cool but that's the past, we [Rimouski] have to get ready for the Saint John Sea Dogs."
DeFulviis found his way to Rimouski earlier this year in a wild and wacky turn of events that began during the last day of the QMJHL trade deadline. The 19-year-old from North York, Ont., started his QMJHL career in 2010 with of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies after coach-GM Andre Tourigny signed him as a free agent.
On Jan. 7, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound centre was moved to the Quebec Remparts along with the rights to Austin Cangelosi, a Boston College recruit who plays for the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms. In return the Huskies acquired a pair of draft picks in 2013.
"As an older player on the Huskies roster I had a feeling I was going to be moved at the deadline from a team that was rebuilding," DeFulviis says.
"My coach (Tourigny) called me about 10 minutes before the deadline telling me I was traded to Quebec then he phoned a second time saying forget about the Remparts because I was going to Rimouski."
DeFulviis made his way across Quebec and set up shop in Rimouski, which is located on eastern shore of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, for the remainder of the regular season. He finished with nine goals and 19 points and a robust 92 PIMs.
During Rimouski's playoff run, DeFulviis has chipped in offensively with three goals and five points. His crusty play has also continued with 30 penalty minutes in 16 post-season matches.
The Océanic earned their way to the QMJHL final beginning with a four-game sweep over the Val d'Or Foreurs in the opening round. Round 2 saw the Oceanic squeak out a seven game series win over the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
Against Halifax, Rimouski jumped out to a 2-0 series lead but the Mooseheads won back-to-back games on the road at Le Colisée. The Océanic responded by thumping Halifax 9-0 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead which set up DeFulviis' overtime marker in the clincher last Sunday.
Now the Océanic will attempt to dethrone the defending QMJHL and Memorial Cup champions, a task that DeFulviis knows will be quite a chore.
"It's going to be tough that's for sure, we won't have any easy shifts when we line up against Saint John."
"The Sea Dogs have a lot of very talented players and can throw four really good lines at us. We will have to play our game and stick with our plan."
Saint John will have home ice for the first two games before the series shifts to Rimouski for Games 3, 4, and 5.
DeFulviis' role in the series will be status quo. Make simple plays, support in the defensive zone and limit the puck possession of Saint John's skilled forwards such as Jonathan Huberdeau, Zach Phillips, Stanislav Galiev, Charlie Coyle and Tomas Jurco.
He may even chip with a timely goal.
DeFulviis will get a break in Games 1 and 2 with Huberdeau out of the Saint John lineup. The Florida Panthers first-rounder has been suspended two games for a check from behind on the Chicoutimi Saguenéens' Charles Hudon last Saturday.
Mike Beasley is a QMJHL columnist for Buzzing The Net.