Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League are sending yet-another player to the major junior ranks.
Jon Lavigne, a 6-foot-3, 220 pound defenceman, has signed with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League after spending the first half of the 2012-13 season in the NOJHL with Blind River.
Lavigne, a 1995 birth date who hails from the Sudbury area, had moved up to the NOJHL this season after spending the 2011-12 campaign at the Gilmore Academy in Ohio.
In going from the NOJHL and Blind River to Hull and the QMJHL, he becomes the third player in as many years to graduate the Beavers for a major junior team.
The first was 1992 birth year winger Brett Findlay, who is now in his first season with the Peterborough Petes after spending the previous two Ontario Hockey League campaigns with the Soo Greyhounds.
The other is 1994 birth year defenceman Andrew Tessier, who now plays for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL after spending the 2011-12 season in the OHL with the Kingston Frontenacs.
As for Lavigne, his departure from Blind River for Hull is somewhat bittersweet, according to Beavers general manager Rusty Joncas.
“We know how skilled he is and he was a huge part of our team this season, however opportunities to play at the major junior level don’t come along every day and we were not going to stand in the way of Jon’s goals,” said Joncas.
Joncas added that “Jon is a great mixture of size, skill and determination and that will help him excell at the next level. Off the ice he’s a great kid, dedicated student and very popular with teammates and fans.”
In 24 games with the Beavers this season, Lavigne had three assists while taking a regular shift for rookie head coach Doug McEwen.
“Jon is a very intense, hardworking young defenseman,” noted McEwen. “His size and strength are great assets and will make any team very happy to have him playing for them. It was a pleasure to be able to help him along in his playing career.”
Pierre Boisvert, who is the director of player personnel for the Hull team of the QMJHL, has had his eyes on Lavigne for some time.
“Two years ago, I was in Mississauga at the OHL Showcase Tournament, watching potential players and I saw this this big d-man moving the puck like there was no tomorrow. What I saw in Jonathan then were his quality decisions in key moments, having the patience to wait the extra second and make a good play instead of having a knee jerk reaction to a situation. Because Jonathan was still eligible for the OHL Draft and being an Ontario kid, I couldn’t talk to him. Now as a free agent, we welcome him to Hull and the QMJHL.”
Lavigne had a shot at playing in the OHL this season but was a late cut by the Oshawa Generals before signing with Blind River. Now, it’s off to the QMJHL and Hull.
One door closes, another one opens.