By Randy Russon – Hockey News North
May 25, 2023
This looks good — really good — on both the French River Rapids and the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. As in, this is the second successive season that a former French River player is with a major junior team that is competing in the Memorial Cup tournament.
A year ago it was speedy former French River forward Phillipe Daoust who earned a Memorial Cup ring as a member of the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League after a 2021-2022 season in which he netted 24 goals, 23 assists, 47 points in just 38 games.
Prior to that, Daoust played in the NOJHL for French River during the 2018-2019 season and potted 20 goals, 39 assists, 59 points in 56 games. He then signed with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL as a free agent after trying out for the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League, who passed on him. Continuing a meteoric rise, Daoust was subsequently drafted by the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League in 2020. Still just 21-years old, Daoust started the 2022-2023 season in the American Hockey League with the Belleville Senators, after signing an NHL contract with Ottawa. He had seven points in just nine games with Belleville before injuring his shoulder and missing the rest of this past season.
This year, it is another former member of the NOJHL Rapids who is at the Memorial Cup tournament. He is 2004 birth year forward Chase Lefebvre, who is a rookie with the OHL champion Peterborough Petes.
Having moved up to be playing as a third line skater with Peterborough, Lefebvre has overcome long odds to make the OHL. He was a 15th-round pick by Peterborough at the 2020 OHL priority selections draft from the North Bay Trappers of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League. He subsequently played the 2021-2022 in the NOJHL with French River and produced 32 goals, 40 assists, 72 points in 52 games, playoffs included.
Paul Frustaglio, who is the owner, general manager and head coach of the NOJHL Rapids, is obviously proud of both Daoust and Lefebvre.
“First of all, we are very proud of our former players Phil and Chase in achieving their goals in hockey,” Frustaglio relayed to Hockey News North. “It is also a credit to our league, the NOJHL, and the French River Rapids program to have helped these young and talented players to reach higher levels of hockey and to continue to fulfill their dreams.
“Both of these young men are extremely gifted and possess a high compete level which has, to their credit, allowed them to find success in major junior hockey and in Phil’s case, as a pro. We wish Chase all the best in the upcoming Memorial Cup in Kamloops … and let’s see if our second Rapid can become a Memorial Cup champion,” Frustaglio added.