It took seventeen games, but Jesse Gabrielle finally got the monkey off his back when he netted his first professional goal against Utica on Sunday. He had gone scoreless in sixteen games and also spent some time as a healthy scratch before finding the back of the net for the first time.
It’s fair to say that Gabrielle has had an up-and-down season thus far. He might only have one point, but there were several games where Gabrielle was one of the hardest working players on the ice. There’s been two games where Gabrielle had at least five shots. He skated hard and threw his body around at times. He was very active in some games.
While there were games when Gabrielle was a bright spot, there were also some where he was not as good. One of his deficiencies was puck possession; Gabrielle struggled to keep the puck on his stick and make the safe play at certain times. Furthermore, he might be one of the fastest skaters on the team, but he was sometimes caught behind the play and struggled to keep up. This kind of stuff happens to young players in their first full seasons. Consistency is a common issue.
There is a good chance frustration has affected Gabrielle, but it’s very unlikely this will become a long-term issue. Gabrielle put up 110 goals and 99 assists in 250 career games in the Western Hockey League, so scoring has never been a problem until now. He will break through eventually.
Also, he is still only 20-years-old and in his first full professional season. Far too many people expected him to be scoring out of the gate.
There is high hope for Gabrielle to develop into a sturdy winger who can score, and this rough start does not change that. Other players down in Providence have played well enough where the team can afford to have Gabrielle go through this learning curve. Although once he breaks out of this dry spell, Providence will benefit greatly from his energetic style.
There’s also a chance the floodgates will open now that Gabrielle finally scored his first goal, so we should wait and see before losing sleep over his rough start.