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Louie Belpedio; a crucial constant for the Rocket

Year after year, consistency is a luxury in the AHL. It’s even more true this year with the upsurge of COVID-19. It doesn’t take long to realize it when you look at the statistics from the Laval Rocket players up until now this season.

Since the start of the campaign, only three guys have played every game of the team; Gabriel Bourque, Tobie Bisson and Jean-Sébastien Dea. The fourth-best player in that category is Louie Belpedio, who missed only one game while he was on the Montreal Canadiens taxi squad.

His presence on that taxi squad was assuredly created by exceptional circumstances but it was also very deserved for the defenseman who played four career games in the NHL. Even though he is not the most well-known name among the fans, there is no doubt that Louie Belpedio has been one of the Rocket blueline cornerstones this season.

His 11 points this season, even though they include three goals on the power play, won’t catch anybody’s eye but his contribution to the team goes way above that number.

For example, up until now this season, he played more than 560 minutes of ice time for the Rocket. Tobie Bisson is the only defenseman above the 402 minutes threshold since the beginning of the campaign.

“Since the beginning of the year, he’s one of the good defensemen that have been constant for us” explained Laval Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle. “He plays in every situation, which is why he gets so many minutes. He is a good leader for us in the room, therefore it’s obvious that when a guy like that comes back, he gets a little bit more ice time.”

It exemplifies perfectly the changes that the Rocket and its coach, Jean-François Houle had to deal with but also the important responsibilities that Belpedio had to take on in the face of all these changes. The good news for Laval is that this workload obviously doesn’t intimidate him in the slightest.

You see it when you dive into the numbers of his 5 on 5 play where it’s hard to argue that Belpedio has not been the best Rocket defenseman this season. He’s leading every player at this position with a Corsi percentage of 60,53%, which is close to a percentage point ahead of his closest teammate, Corey Schueneman whose great play during the two last seasons has earned him a long stay with the Canadiens.

When you focus on scoring chances, once again Louie Belpedio leads the parade. He has maintained a +28 scoring chances differential when he has been on the ice at 5 on 5 this season. It puts him comfortably in first place among Rocket skaters this season. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Jean-Sébastien Dea are currently sharing the second place with a decent +16.

When you look at Louie Belpedio’s profile, it’s normal that he’s not the player most Rocket fans are focussing on. He is not a high draft pick of the organization nor an offensive defenseman who puts up scoring numbers night after night.

That being said, those who paid attention to his game since the beginning of the season saw a defenseman that was crucial to the team’s success. If he continues to play as much but especially as well, his fan club might grow pretty quickly.