17-year-old Prince George-native Jacob Gendron could be the newest dose of young blood to have a spot on an experienced Giants blue line this season.
One of the most powerful skaters from the BC Major Midget League last season is holding his own with six WHL preseason games this season under his belt.
Hockey is rich in his DNA, from his father Shawn who is a former Prince George Cougar himself, suiting up from 1994-96 posting 83 points in the process.
Jacob’s father Shawn is one of few who can elude to themselves as proudly self proclaimed ‘original kitty litter’ being a part of the first WHL squad to lace ’em up in BC’s northern capital.
The younger Gendron born in 2002, played last season with the BC Major Midget Hockey League Champion Cariboo Cougars adding 25 points (11-14-25) in 40 regular season games.
The very mobile offensive-defenseman boasts a lot of upsides that Giants head coach Michael Dyck says is something to keep an eye on for steady improvement every game.
“He has played well. He skates very well. He’s engaged, and he’s going to learn a little bit more as we go. He’s really starting to adjust to the speed of the game as far as playing faster and moving the puck faster,” said coach Dyck
As far as what Dyck is expecting from the promising young talent from the north moving forward, he says that’s a good question.
Dyck pointed to things as small as Gendron’s strength as one of the 17-year-old’s biggest things to work on.
Gendron came into Giants camp standing at an even six-feet tall and weighing in at 180-pounds.
Last season, the smallest every night guy on the Giants blue line was five-foot-eleven Seth Bafaro who came over to the Giants mid-season from the Saskatoon Blades.
On paper, Gendron fits the bill physically.
On the ice is another story with the WHL being arguably the roughest and toughest league to play Major Junior hockey in Canada.
Gendron says he spent all summer trying to prepare for what lies ahead, and caught a five game glimpse of in the 2018 preseason.
For the d-man, the biggest adjustment he points to is speed, calling it 100 percent faster hockey than what he saw wearing a cage last season in Major Midget.
So far his training has seemed to pay off, as he’s been able to add two goals through six pre-season games despite admitting he’s been exceptionally nervous.
The process of regaining his confidence has been sped up though by his scoring ability, Gendron says every goal making him feel more and more comfortable.
“Confidence is everything at this level, with my two goals it really makes me feel like I belong,” the former Cariboo Cougar added.
The sense of belonging is a big challenge for some major junior players, Gendron says he has been lucky though by the open arms of new teammates and staff around the locker room.
The new driver did add it’s going to take some time to get used to the traffic of the big city and the line ups in places there wouldn’t normally be back home.
If the pressure of playing his first game in the WHL wasn’t enough already, if this rookie defenseman gets the opportunity to take the ice during opening weekend it will be in Prince George.
In front of what he joked could be up to a couple thousand friends and family at CN Centre in a city centre where everyone knows everyone.
If given the chance, Gendron just plans to treat it like every other game as much as possible, arguing why change what got him to a situation he’s surely dreamed about since his first skating lesson.
The Giants are set to open their regular season on September 20th in Prince George, a week later Vancouver will host the Portland Winterhawks for their home opener on Friday September 27th at the Langley Events Centre.
2019 @chevrolet Training Camp Spelling Bee 🔤.
Contestant #1 – Jacob Gendron pic.twitter.com/tPUrRf7Wh5
— Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants) August 24, 2019