Kamloops Blazers forward Jermaine Loewen is certainly making up for lost time. The 1998-born left wing is having a career year in his fourth season in Kamloops. Loewen, who was born in Mandeville, Jamaica and raised in Manitoba has piled up 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points in just 22 games so far this season. This is already four more points than his best season in Kamloops a year ago.
Loewen has only been playing hockey for the past eight years, so maybe him being a late bloomer should not be too surprising. He picked up hockey at around 10 and a half-11 and credits the community of Arborg, Manitoba. where he moved to from Jamaica, with playing a big role in his discovering the sport.
“Coming from Manitoba, that was a big thing. Everyone talked about playing hockey. A friend introduced me to playing hockey and I wanted to give it a try,” Loewen said.
The first player he followed closely was the hometown hero of Arborg, James Reimer.
“I would say growing up at home, there is a guy named James Reimer. He is a goalie but he inspired me a lot with his work ethic and the kind of man he is. Guys I want to be like Wayne Simmonds I look up to him a lot and how he plays. Obviously, being a player of color, I really appreciate what he brings to the game.”
After spending a lot of time in the bottom-six forward group in his first three years in Kamloops, Loewen has broken out in a big way this year. He had a 10-game point streak going recently, which was snapped by the Everett Silvertips on December 1st. Despite his run, he feels like he has not reached his peak yet.
“I’m sticking to a process and there’s been adversity, but I just keep working and things take a bit longer for some people and I’m still not at my maximum. But I’m working every day and try to have that pro mindset to just get better and work hard.”
As for the streak. “Yeah it was just hard work paying off. I was just getting in front of the net and playing my game. I wouldn’t say that Everett game, I wasn’t playing my game but some things come to an end. It was a hard game.”
Perhaps his biggest goal in that 10-game run, was the game winner with 31 seconds left in a tight contest at home vs. Seattle.
“It was a big moment. I just saw a loose puck and got my team turning really fast. I saw that I could go around the outside and I got some room and tucked it in. It was a play that I was feeling at the moment. I saw the gap and I busted in as fast as I could. I had a good opportunity and buried it.”
Loewen then scored another big goal in his next game vs. Seattle. He broke a tie with around 10 minutes left on a similar play. That was his team’s 13th win their last 17 games. They have turned things around since starting the year out 0-9 and are sitting just out of the playoffs right now, four points back of Seattle.
“I think it was tough at the beginning with things not going our way but with certain things in the game where we were having some mental breakdowns and errors. I think as a team, we just started to stick together and we were producing results. We started to bond as a team too and have a team identity.”
Loewen has been a big part of Kamloops’ recent run. His role keeps increasing as his play does and he seems to be improving with each game. Considering he’s been playing hockey at least five years less than most everyone else in the WHL, maybe we have not seen him at his best yet. That is a scary proposition for his opponents.