By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Alexandre Imbeault already has answered a few pertinent questions during his rookie season with the Johnstown Chiefs.
The 21-year-old center from Montreal leads Johnstown with four goals and 10 points entering Friday’s game against visiting Dayton.
But the numbers only are the obvious testament about Imbeault’s early progress. First-year Chiefs head coach Ian Herbers looks beyond the statistics.
“When he first came in, I thought he could only play right wing,” Herbers said after Thursday’s practice at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. “I’ve had him at center at times. He’s been very good at center and that means he’s responsible in the defensive zone.
“That might have been a knock on him early in his career, that he was a guy who waited to get his points and get easy points. But he’s been a two-way performer for us, a ‘plus player’ who helps out at both ends of the rink.”
Imbeault is a plus-2 with at least one point in seven of the 5-5 Chiefs’ 10 games. He had a two-goal game in an early-season win at Trenton, a two-point game in a victory over South Carolina and a two-assist outing in another win over the Devils.
“I’m pretty happy with the way it’s going right now but I know I can play better,” Imbeault said. “I need to improve. For the beginning of my first pro year, I’m happy with the first 10 games. I know I can improve if I work hard in practice.”
Imbeault spent the past four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, including 39 games with Chicoutimi and eight more with Victoriaville last season when he combined for 34 goals and 65 points.
The 6-foot, 150-pound forward was invited to the AHL’s Providence Bruins’ training camp after the Chiefs inked an affiliation deal with the NHL’s Boston Bruins.
“It started with him having a great camp in Providence,” Herbers said. “He impressed some people there and opened some eyes there. If he keeps playing like this, there might be an opportunity for him there or if not, maybe in another organization.”
Defense and conditioning are two areas of focus for Imbeault.
“All of the guys are bigger and stronger in the pro game,” Imbeault said. “I need to work hard on my strength and still work on my skating because it’s faster here. The guys are bigger, stronger and faster.”
“We have chemistry,” Imbeault said. “We’re used to playing with everybody. It’s a good thing.”