Simon Desmarais says he isn’t scared, and he isn’t just talking the talk. He’s walking the walk.
Despite being the youngest player on the Halifax Mooseheads roster, the 16-year-old defenceman has walked his way into the club’s top-four defensive rotation and left no doubt he belongs in the QMJHL.
“I don’t think about my age on the ice,” he says. “I try to play like I’m 17 or 18.”
Considering he was a second-round pick who the Mooseheads didn’t even expect to make the team until 2011, it’s that much more remarkable he’s trusted with last-minute ice time in close games.
The rugged six-foot 191-pounder is known as a stay-at-home type and has two goals and an assist in nine games, along with a team-leading plus-six rating. His no-nonsense approach is evidenced by three fights already in his young career.
“The guys are bigger and more intimidating,” he admits. “But my first game at the Metro Centre, I fought. I try not to be afraid of the older guys.”
Desmarais has moved past a number of older players on the depth chart and made it clear he is a franchise cornerstone as one of its best blue-line picks in years.
He says being paired with 20-year-old veteran Pascal Amyot has facilitated his quick transition to major junior.
“He’s a role model to me,” Desmarais says. “I like to play with a veteran. He’s helped me in practice and he talks to me a lot on the ice.”
The Chambly, Que., native can’t explain the bizarre fact that he already has two QMJHL goals despite not scoring in 42 midget AAA games last season.
“I just shoot it on the net,” he says with a grin.
As for his impressive plus-minus?
“I will try to keep it that way.”