When Gabriel Desjardins came to Halifax Mooseheads’ training camp last fall, he put pressure on his shoulders to score — and score often. He didn’t.
Considering he didn’t blow out the candles for his 17th birthday until the season was 22 games old, it’s not terribly surprising.
“I think I put a little too much pressure on myself,” he admits, thinking back to when he announced he would donate $21 to charity for every point he recorded. “At 17 years old, you’re not supposed to do that. I think that’s why my season (started) a little bit (slow).”
Desjardins, who is representing Canada at the IIHF world under-18 championship starting today in Belarus, eventually came around. With a little patience from the coaching staff, the six-foot, 197-pound winger got back to basics and found his stride.
He finished the year with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in his final 16 games, salvaging his sluggish start to finish fourth on the team with 32 points in 62 games.
“I think my focus came a long way (in the second half),” he says. “My focus before games, being ready … I think it was for sure what made the difference.”
The Montreal native is one of just two QMJHL players on the Canadian roster along with Shawinigan Cataractes forward Michael Bournival.
With a number of more prolific scorers, the speedy, hard-working Desjardins is expected to be employed in other areas by head coach Guy Carbonneau.
“Energy guy, that’s for sure,” Desjardins says. “Third line or fourth line … If the first and second lines are down, I’m one of the guys who will come along and give some energy.”
Desjardins, who is not eligible for the NHL entry draft until 2011, was a late cut from Canada’s under-18 team that won gold at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic last August.
He is the youngest forward on the team and the second youngest player overall.
“He’ll show them they made the right decision to bring him,” says Mooseheads head coach and general manager Cam Russell. “His speed and strength are hard for defencemen to contain … He’s going to be a big part of that hockey team.”
Desjardins gets the ‘A’
Halifax Mooseheads forward Gabriel Desjardins was named an alternate captain with the Canadian under-18 team yesterday. He will rotate the ‘A’ with Jordan Weal. John McFarland is a permanent alternate, while defenceman Erik Gudbranson will wear the ‘C’.