Jacob Melanson has taken the long road, not by design, but by necessity.
The Amherst, Nova Scotia product has been confronted with adversity throughout his life on and off the ice.
Through it all the young mature seventeen-year-old two-way forward wouldn’t want it any other the way.
You see Jacob Melanson is willing to take any path necessary to reach his ultimate hockey dream.
“My earliest recollection of playing the game was when I was five years old, but I started skating when I was only eighteen months old,” Melanson said proudly.
To say hockey is life would be an understatement for Jacob Melanson.
“I knew I wanted hockey to be part of my life when I committed to playing in Truro,” stressed Melanson.
Like so many other players from small communities or rural centres across our beautiful country, Melanson and his family had to commit very early on to travelling hours upon end to play at the highest level possible.
“We didn’t have AAA In Amherst so Truro was my only option to play at the highest level,” confessed Melanson.
“I played in Truro for six years.”
Six years worth of travel.
Six years travelling down the same road.
It’s was all worth it to his achieve all of his hockey dreams.
From Atom all the way to Midget, Melanson and his family endured the familiar southern trek to Truro.
The two hour commute at times offered clarity and peace of mind, but it also served up every emotion in between.
Jacob Melanson and his families sacrifice and the challenges they faced along the way always meant something extra.
Those aspects of his journey ultimately shaped the player and person.
There’s character and resiliency and then there’s Jacob Melanson.
You see that’s what has made Melanson’s path in the game so unique.
His willingness to make every sacrifice imaginable to become a best player and person he could be.
The long road to the AAA centre quickly became the fastest route to his dream.
The years of dedication and commitment were starting to pay dividends.
“I have experienced adversity throughout my entire journey due to the fact I am from a small town, and having to play and practice an hour away from home.”
“I had to give up a lot of my childhood to do so.”
“I missed out on a lot of things, but honestly I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Melanson of his two hour round trip.
By his second year Bantam Melanson was starting to receive the attention from recruiters and scouts alike.
All of the sacrifice and travel was finally starting to pay off.
At fifteen years old Melanson turned in an exceptional draft year performance which caught the attention of every Q team.
The Remparts traded up to and selected Melanson with their second 1st round selection in 2019.
What did it mean to have the opportunity to be drafted into QMJHL and play for the Remparts?
“It was probably one of our biggest highlights of my life for me and my family,” Melanson said proudly.
“Draft day was unbelievable.”
“It was sad to see this years draft held online and to know that those guys didn’t get the full experience. Walking on that stage was a crazy feeling,” Melanson said.
Everything seemed to be going in the right direction for Melanson until he was confronted with early adversity at the Q level.
He had faced adversity before, but this was different.
“Getting drafted was such a highlight, however playing on the fourth line and finding my way was probably the most adversity I had ever gone through,” confessed Melanson.
How difficult is it having high expectations and did Melanson feel any added pressure being a first rounder?
“Having high expectations is difficult especially when you come from a small town.”
“All eyes are on you,” Melanson said.
“I did seem to have higher expectations being drafted in the first round, however, I think I handled the pressure well,” Melanson said proudly.
Melanson like many other young aspiring players was trying to fit in and adapt as quickly as possible at the next level.
“At this stage the pressure is on you at all times,” said Melanson.
“Going into your second year and being seventeen years old, the expectations and pressure to be a good person, a good student and be a good hockey player are present every day.”
Melanson’s rookie season was derailed when he sustained a broken collarbone in November.
The feisty competitor from Amherst was limited to only 39 games last year. Melanson managed to score three times and chipped in with seven assists over that span.
Critics are quick to comment when things don’t go well, but young players are often their own worst enemy.
Poor performances and not living up to high expectations can take a toll on players confidence and mental health.
Melanson took the injury and his first year performance to heart.
The offensively gift skilled forward rededicated himself this summer and put in extra time to set up what he hoped to be a breakout season.
Everything was going to plan until the unthinkable happened once again.
“The injury this year was even more devastating than the break last year,” Melanson said.
Melanson broke the same collarbone a few weeks back.
As of right now he’s scheduled to miss eight to ten weeks.
The orthopaedic surgeon told the team and family that ‘it was just bad luck.’
“I trained really hard this summer, starting in June when things started to open up again due to the shut down from Covid.”
“I travelled most weeks twice a week to Halifax and then started travelling to Moncton also a few days a week for extra ice time,” Melanson said.
How difficult has it been for Melanson to deal with the same injury and devastating set back at this point of his career?
“It is so hard to see my teammates take the ice.”
“I was so ready to get going and now this set back with the same injury makes it hard to watch.”
A broken collarbone has limited Melanson’s options for training at the current time.
“I use my spin bike for an hour everyday.”
“I started physio last week, and my progress is really good,” Melanson said.
Melanson’s long road to recovery and healing has started.
He hopes to comeback stronger than ever.
The Remparts sophomore forward is using all the life lessons he learned throughout his journey to help speed up the recovery process.
“Growing up playing hockey I always felt I had to push myself to be better than others from the city as they were being seen that much more.”
“Mentally I think this has helped me grow and develop, but I know I can grow more,” admitted Melanson.
“This was just a bump in the road and I am ready to get going again.”
The sacrifices of his family especially his mother isn’t loss on him.
“My mom has had a huge impact on my journey.”
“She has sacrificed a lot for me.”
“She has always been there for me,” said a reflective Melanson.
“She always told me, that she would physically and financially get me to where I needed to go, but its up to me to do the work to get where I needed and wanted to go.”
“I think I can get through anything with her support,” Melanson said proudly.
There’s nothing like a great comeback story, especially when it happens to amazingly strong and deserving players and people.
“I had hoped that when I went back to Quebec in August this year that this was going to be my breakout season.”
Unfortunately the injury happened, but I will come back stronger,” Melanson said.
Melanson strongly believes he can be a impact player for the Remparts.
“If I had the opportunity to play solid top six mins I could definitely be a huge help to my team.”
“I’m a two-way player that likes to be physical, hopefully I can still be that player and stay healthy.”
Melanson’s family and agent believed the best place for him to be right now and rehab from the injury was to go home.
“Seeing your teammates take the ice and workout every day is hard to watch.”
“It’s fun to be in that environment, but also hard mentally when you can’t take part in any of it.”
“When that’s all you want to do at this point in your life, it’s extremely hard to watch.”
“I did stay last year during my injury, but we weren’t dealing with COVID -19.”
Jacob Melanson has experienced his share of ups and downs along the road to the QMJHL.
The long road continues.
Jacob Melanson’s path in the game has taught him everything he needs to know about passion, resiliency, work ethic, persistence, character and perseverance.
There’s nothing like a good comeback story, just make sure you follow this one, because when Jacob Melanson gets healthy he’s going to make some noise.