Ice HockeyValentin Pilet, symbol of the Ajoulote resistance
The Vaudois defender of HC Ajoie, who is having his first experience in the National League, is the good surprise of this start to the season. He delivers himself before Saturday’s trip to Davos.
- Julien Boegli
Announced in mid-June at the same time as that of American defender TJ Brennan, Valentin Pilet’s two-year commitment to HC Ajoie was in no way a « shock » transfer. Back in Porrentruy after two seasons played in the Swiss League in Visp, the 25-year-old back from Nord-Vaudois, however, quickly made his mark in the Jura system.
Most Used Defender
So much so that he is, with an average playing time of 18’32 minutes per game, the most used defensive element after the two foreigners Jérôme Leduc and Brennan. Pintail to Ajoie, not a shock transfer, no, but a useful, even necessary commitment. Because with his size (190 cm for 94 kg), he brings this presence which was missing in front of the net last year at the neo-promoted. “I take up space in front of our goal, I disturb the opponent with my physical game,” he says, moreover.
In Ajoie, Valentin Pilet found a workplace he had known three years ago, after his two-season experience in Sweden, at IK Pantern. “The environment there is still just as welcoming and I have the confidence of the coaches”. A confidence that he obtained from the preparation matches and which continues at the start of the autumn campaign.
If he did very occasionally touch the NL formatted game during the fabulous adventure of the HCA in the Swiss Cup three years ago, Valentin now tastes high-level hockey every week. This pleasing start (+1 plus/minus) was nevertheless almost tarnished by an injury which was ultimately not an injury. A shipment from Friborg during the 2e day crashing on his foot and the defender thought he was cut short in his tracks.
Absence shorter than expected
An MRI performed two days later first revealed a fracture. Length of absence: between four and six weeks. “It took a toll on my morale. An injury is always bad, but there, at the start of the season when I was making my mark, it was the worst for me. Very quickly, however, the pain disappeared. “I thought to myself, this can’t be broken. I then asked to do a second check.
A scanner passed in the sequence reassures him: it was in reality only a bone depression. « Thursday I was still moving around with canes and an orthopedic walking boot and the next day I was on the ice to face Ambri, » he smiles. A relief for Ajoie and for the man, whose involvement in numerical inferiority is precious for the HCA. It is also the added element to have the most playing time in these phases of the game.
Effective box play
We therefore understand that if his training currently displays the fourth tightest box-play in the league (85.19% efficiency, four goals conceded in seven matches), it is a little thanks to him. During the past year, Ajoie let go much more often taken in numerical disadvantage (71.71%). Pilet, a useful, necessary reinforcement. It will be there again on Saturday evening in Graubünden. Opposite, Davos, which remains on three consecutive successes, is currently relying on a high-performance power play with already nine achievements registered in power-play (45% success)! “Yes, it will come strong, as always on this ice. You will have to be ready as soon as you get off the bus, ”he warns.
Beaten Friday by Zurich (0-4) – « a strange match where we lacked the spark, a match not really finished », judge Pilet – HC Ajoie, 9e ranking, will therefore try to bounce back in an arena where it is never good to spend your Saturday evening there.