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AHL’s Laval signs Vrbetic

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Goaltender Joe Vrbetic of the North Bay Battalion has been signed to a one-year, two-way American Hockey League contract, the Laval Rocket announced Sunday.

The Montreal Canadiens, for whom Laval serves as the AHL affiliate, selected Vrbetic, who turns 20 on Oct. 24, in the seventh round of the 2021 National Hockey League Draft.

A second-round choice in the 2018 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection from the Don Mills Flyers minor midgets, Vrbetic played 88 games with the Battalion over two-plus seasons, posting a won-lost-extended record of 43-35-7, a goals-against average of 3.52, a save percentage of .893 and four shutouts.

In 2021-22, he went 29-10-6 with a 2.87 GAA, a .906 save percentage and two shutouts as the Troops won the Central Division title.

In eight playoff games this year, when North Bay advanced to the Eastern Conference final against the eventual OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs, Vrbetic, a Hamilton native who stands six-foot-six and weighs 188 pounds, won six of seven decisions with a 3.88 GAA and an .872 save percentage.

“We’re very proud of Joe regarding his big news,” said general manager Adam Dennis. “He’s come a long way since he came to North Bay as a 16-year-old and has earned this opportunity. We look forward to watching Joe as he progresses through his professional career.”

With Vrbetic moving to the pro ranks, 18-year-old Dom DiVincentiis figures to assume the mantle as No. 1 goaltender, with a rookie backup. The Winnipeg Jets chose DiVincentiis in the seventh round of the NHL Draft on July 8.

“Joe’s promotion paves the way for Charlie Robertson, our 2021 seventh-round pick,” said Dennis. “We feel Charlie can provide stability as a young goalie behind Dom for a formidable tandem.”

DiVincentiis, a Bolton, Ont., resident who measures six-foot-two and 184 pounds, appeared in 27 games as a rookie, with a record of 14-8-1, a GAA of 2.59 and a save percentage of .907. He won two of five playoff decisions, with a GAA of 3.51 and an .885 save percentage.

Robertson, a London native who turned 17 on April 2, played last season for Ridley College of St. Catharines after being selected from the London Jr. Knights U16 team. He stands six-foot-two and weighs 161 pounds.

Laval also announced the signing of goaltender Philippe Desrosiers, 26, who played in 2021-22 with the ECHL’s Trois-Rivieres Lions and saw brief action with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.

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