Shediac, New Brunswick’s own Dominic LeBlanc is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the next level and fulfill his childhood dream to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The soft-spoken skilled forward was selected by the Moncton Wildcats in the 8th round 136th overall in last years QMJHL Entry Draft.
The sixteen-year-old is now one step closer to his dream, but understands there is a process to follow and is committed to see it through.
“I was just really fortunate and super exited that the Wildcats, my home team, drafted me,” confessed LeBlanc.
“The wait was long, but in the end it was worth it.”
“I could not ask for a better organization to draft me and it was just surreal to be drafted by Wildcats.”
LeBlanc is another perfect example of a player that proves that it doesn’t matter what round you are selected in that it’s the work you put in after the draft that really counts.
The speedy forward trained five days a week over the summer with other QMJHL hopefuls at Peak Fitness in Dieppe.
From full body workouts and cardio, to yoga, track work and the all important on ice skill development, LeBlanc worked tirelessly to ensure he would make a positive first impression on the Wildcats organization.
LeBlanc trained under the watchful eyes of Rick Leger, Andre Daigle and Derek Cormier who also offer the program to current Q players and pro’s from this region. One could say that trio doesn’t it all.
LeBlanc entered his first Wildcats Training Camp in arguably the best shape of his life ready to prove he belonged at the next level.
That’s exactly what he did!
“It was really a great first training camp experience,” LeBlanc said proudly.
“The speed of the game is much faster, but as the camp went on, I felt more comfortable with the adjustment.”
“Playing with and against future NHL players and many other great players was a real eye opener for me,” admitted LeBlanc.
“Seeing their work ethics and passion for the game helped me to learn what it takes to play at the next level.”
LeBlanc was also impressed with their leadership skills.
“Seeing their leadership toward other players to help them get better and the respect they had for their fans were really unreal.”
So which Wildcat had the largest impact on his transition to the league?
“There wasn’t really a specific person that helped me, I would say the entire team and coaching staff were all there to help.”
“They helped me get better every day and taught me what it takes to play at the next level.”
“We had the luxury of watching him play all year because he was with the Flyers,” Moncton Wildcats Assistant Director of Hockey Operations Ritchie Thibeau said.
“We got to see the details of his game and how the coach used him. It was evident that he was coaches player and Dominic is a guy that you can put in any situation and those are guys that you like to have as part of your program,” Thibeau explained.
Thibeau believes LeBlanc’s great training camp had everything to do with his preparation and work ethic in the offseaon.
“He obviously came to camp in shape which is important, he gave himself a chance.”
“When he got here he competed with the rookies and he provided some offence which we didn’t really expect, but through camp on a game by game basis he contributed offensively and he was good in both ends of the ice.”
“We want him to be a 200ft player and moving forward that’s what is going to get him in this league. Dominic has to really develop on that for us,” admitted Thibeau.
Having a phenomenal training camp and making an outstanding first impression is one thing, but being reassigned back to the Midget ranks is still a tough pill to swallow for any young aspiring player.
“I feel that for every player that gets sent down is a tough feeling, but I felt I showed what I could do at that level, and I’m just going to keep working on my game so that I will be better and ready when I get called up,” explained LeBlanc.
So is the 8th round draft pick part of the Wildcats future?
“No question,” Thibeau said.
“Everyone we Draft is part of the plan.”
Thibeau is quick to point out the vast majority of the current Wildcat lineup is mostly home grown talent from a variety of different rounds within draft.
“Dominic is part of our plans, he’s got to make the team and continue to develop, that’s part of being sixteen-years-old.”
So what aspects does Thibeau believe the young highly skilled forward needs to work on?
“For us it’s a full 200ft game,” Thibeau said.
“Dominic is a really smart player and he’s got use that to his advantage and compete in both ends of the ice. He really has to push himself, he’s sixteen years old and the Midget league and he’s got to be one of the best players in the league in both ends of the ice for us.”
“Coming back to Midget only means that I have to work on my game and be an impact player every game for my teammates. Obviously, the goal this year was to play in the Q, but I feel that going back to Midget is a learning process.”
“I want to work on my compete level in the Midget league. Midget may be easier than the Q, but that does not mean I can’t compete hard in practice and in games,” stressed LeBlanc.
“I also want to be consistent every game, being tough to play against and to be the best player on the ice every game.”
“The goal for next year is to be a full-time player with the Wildcats. I’m working hard this year to get an opportunity this season, and prove I can be an impact player next year,” LeBlanc said.