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Teasdale delivering for Rocket in playoff push

Joël Teasdale reached the 20-goal plateau on his birthday this past weekend in Springfield

MONTREAL – If the Rocket is going to secure a playoff berth in the coming weeks, Joël Teasdale will undoubtedly play a key role in accomplishing that objective.

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The 24-year-old forward has been an offensive force for head coach Jean-François Houle’s contingent since just before Christmas when he finally got his scoring mojo back on track.

Teasdale has an AHL career-high 20 goals over his last 32 games.

That’s quite the feat for a player who scored his first goal of the season on Dec. 14.

“From a personal standpoint, it was a really tough start to the year. It was the first time I’d ever been scratched when I was fully healthy, so it’s something I really had to work on,” said Teasdale, who watched a dozen games from the press box in the fall. “I took that time to work on some things in my game that I was struggling with, my starts and my speed. I put in a lot of time in practice and the gym to get more power. I’m getting a little more ice time now, too, which helped boost my confidence. Confidence means everything in this sport. I started to be more confident with the puck and make more plays, and it paid dividends. Things have been going well.”

That’s an understatement in every sense of the word.

One of only two Rocket players to reach the 20-goal plateau this season, the other being Anthony Richard, Teasdale has been “Mr. Reliable” in the extended absence of players like Alex Belzile, Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen up front.

The Repentigny native credits Houle for helping him turn his game around, too.

“The coaching staff is really close to the players. I had a lot of conversations with J-F when I was out of the lineup. He let me know where we stood, what he saw from me in practice, and what he wanted me to improve on during games. Having that constant communication with him really helped me,” explained Teasdale, who boasts a career-high 33 points in 45 games. “I tip my cap to him for doing that. It helps with learning. I developed a lot from those chats and that really helped my game.”

After overcoming a pair of serious knee injuries in recent years, Teasdale is enjoying some well-deserved success with the Canadiens’ affiliate – and his buddies couldn’t be happier for him.

The undrafted QMJHL graduate has clearly earned the respect of his peers.

“Teaser’s full of character. He’s a player. I’m a big fan of his game. He’s so heavy on the puck and so talented. He has the whole package. Even without the puck, he’s so responsible. He’s got a lot of good qualities,” praised Belzile. “You could see through the years that he really developed his game.  He adjusted and he got better and better and better. He’s building his game up right now, getting his touches, getting his swag, and getting his confidence up. I’ve watched a few Laval games since I was called up and when Teaser’s on, he has a step. When he has the puck, nobody can get it away from him. He’s got a lot of underestimated skills. Like down low, below the dots in the offensive zone, he’s elite in my book. He’s so, so good.”

LAVAL, CANADA – MARCH 4: Rockford Icehogs v Laval Rocket during the 1st period at Place Bell on March 4, 2023 in Laval, QC, Canada. (Photo by Arianne Bergeron / Arena du Rocket Inc.)

Should the Rocket punch a ticket to the postseason, Belzile fully expects his former stall mate to come up clutch. 

He cited Teasdale’s outstanding accomplishments with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies during a remarkable playoff run in 2019 that culminated in President’s Cup and Memorial Cup titles.

Teasdale was the leading scorer in the QMJHL playoffs with 34 points – including 14 goals – in 20 games, and garnered Memorial Cup MVP honors with four goals in five appearances.

“He’s always been a gamer, all his life. When he plays in the playoffs, he elevates his game. He’s not the flashiest guy, but he’s so efficient in so many different aspects of the game,” added Belzile. “When you go to the playoffs, there’s no room anymore. It’s tighter and tighter. There’s guys that struggle a bit with that style, but he embraces it because he plays hard the whole year. It’s natural for him to play in the playoffs.”

Described as a “quiet leader” by his coach, Houle is clearly a big fan of No. 24.

He appreciates Teasdale’s effort and intensity.

“He’s tough to play against and tough to defend along the boards. He’s a big guy. He’s a good teammate,” said Houle. “He doesn’t talk a lot, but his actions, the way he plays, says a lot about him, and he’s really loved by his teammates in the room.”

LAVAL, CANADA – MARCH 3: Rochester Americans v Laval Rocket at Place Bell on March 3, 2023 in Laval, QC, Canada. (Photo by Matt Garies / Arena du Rocket Inc.)

With 14 games left in the regular season, Teasdale hopes to continue putting up numbers to get another taste of the unique playoff atmosphere at Place Bell in April.

The three-year AHL veteran knows the competition in the North Division will be stiff down the stretch, but he’s eager to step up and deliver for the group.

“It’s all about confidence and playing a little more. I love being in the hard areas. I like being around the net. That’s where the majority of goals are scored. I’d say I’ve been in the right place at the right time lately and I want to keep going,” concluded Teasdale. “I try to bring as much as I can to the team. I’m not a flashy player, but I’m all about the small details and working hard.”

This profile is part of a series of articles to promote the Laval Rocket during their 2022-23 playoff push. For individual tickets, click here.