By Brian Compton
TRENTON, N.J. – It’s not every day that a rookie can join a team and immediately contribute.
But that’s exactly what Benoit Mondou has done with the Titans.
The 21-year-old from Sorel, Quebec has been one of Trenton’s most reliable players through the first seven games of the season on both sides of the ice. He will look to provide some more quality play Friday when the Titans begin the first of a two-game set with the Dayton Bombers at Sovereign Bank Arena.
“I’m happy with my start,” Mondou said after the Titans practiced yesterday at SBA. “It’s my first year pro. I have good teammates. I’m happy to be on a good team and I would like to learn much from these guys.”
Titans head coach Rick Kowalsky is thrilled with the transition Mondou has made from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to the ECHL. Mondou, who had 46 goals and 52 assists for the Shawinigan Cataractes last season, has tallied two goals and seven helpers in the Titans’ first seven games this year.
But, more importantly, Mondou has been solid in his own end and has been one of Kowalsky’s more reliable two-way forwards.
“I didn’t know him as a player,” Kowalsky said. “He knows the game and he’s another one of those guys that pursues the puck. He just hounds the ‘D’ until they turn it over. He’s very smart and he’s defensively responsible. That’s nice for a rookie.”
Despite his young age and inexperience at the professional level, Mondou realizes that one-dimensional players don’t see much time, if any, in the American Hockey League. The Devils product realizes that if he wants some playing time in Lowell this season, he’s going to have to be reliable in his own end of the ice.
“It’s important to play the two sides if you want to go up to the AHL,” Mondou said. “You need to learn both sides. I would like to learn more about it. It’s very important to play both sides.”
So far, he’s done that as one of Kowalsky’s top centers at even strength and on special teams. It’s the type of work ethic that Kowalsky had as a player and the type he preaches now as a coach. Mondou is willingly complying.
“You need to play hard all the time,” Mondou said. “You have to drive the net and shoot the puck. It’s important to begin (the season) well.”
“You can tell he’s a goal scorer, because once he sees that goal, his eyes light up and away he goes,” Kowalsky said. “He’s gotten better every day. He’s a great kid.”