By Sam Laskaris
KITCHENER—Doug Blaisdell is doing his best to remain positive even though he’ll miss a substantial chunk of what could potentially be his final season of junior hockey.
Blaisdell, a 19-year-old who is a member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames in southwestern Ontario, is a defenceman with the Kitchener Rangers. The club competes in the 20-team Ontario Hockey League.
This marks the fourth season playing in Kitchener for Blaisdell, who turns 20 on Feb. 20. He’ll only be able to return to the club, or play for another franchise in the OHL, if he is selected as one of three overagers on the squad’s roster.
Blaisdell badly wanted to have a solid 2016-17 campaign. He was hoping his injury woes were a thing of the past, especially since he had off-season wrist surgery in July.
But Blaisdell once again finds himself on the sidelines now as he separated his left shoulder on Nov. 2 during a game against the host Sarnia Sting. Though surgery will not be required, Blaisdell is uncertain of exactly when he’ll return to action.
“It’s listed as day-to-day,” he said. “But maybe it will be mid-December I’ll be back, if not, after Christmas.”
Blaisdell, a 6-foot-2inches, 205-pounder, is obviously keen to return to the lineup as soon as he can. Though he has not been drafted by a National Hockey League (NHL) team, he has generated interest among pro-scouts for his solid defensive play.
When healthy, he is often facing opposing team’s top offensive players. His job has always been to shut down other players and not provide offence himself.
During his junior career, he has scored six goals and has 22 points.
Blaisdell, however, is confident his defensive play will be good enough to earn him at least an invite to an NHL camp.
Blaisdell is also eager to return to the Rangers’ lineup because he feels the squad is capable of having a rather successful season. Kitchener registered a 11-7-0-1 mark following its first 19 games, good for third spot in the league’s rather competitive five-team Midwest Division.
“I think we have a really good team once we have everybody healthy,” said Blaisdell.
Blaisdell said his side might have fared even better earlier on this season. But the club did not start its season at full strength as a number of Kitchener players were away at NHL training camps.
Blaisdell is confident the Rangers will continue to have their share of success this season. But he’s not willing to speculate where the club will end up in the standings.
“I know we’ll be a playoff contending team,” he said. “But it’s hard to tell where we’ll end up. I honestly have no idea.”
Once he is healthy and returns to playing, Blaisdell will be looking to improve his play.
“I want my stickhandling and my skating to be smoother,” he said. “Those are two areas I’ll be looking to improve on.”