A newfound sense of self-belief helped carry Jalen Bianchet to new heights with the U18 AAA Ajax-Pickering Raiders this season.
The elusive forward from Pickering, Ont., scored 29 goals with 40 assists in 43 games to finish second in the Eastern AAA Hockey League points race, saving his best for his last season of minor hockey.
“Learning to become confident has been my secret weapon this year,” he said.
The only thing missing from a perfect sendoff for Bianchet was an Ontario Minor Hockey Association championship, as his team lost the final 2-0 to the Oshawa Generals. It was a second straight loss in the final for the Raiders, who finished second this season at 27-6-3.
Before the playoffs, he said last year’s defeat to the Guelph Jr. Gryphons motivated him “to come back to the Raiders for another year and avenge what happened.”
After going unchosen in the 2021 Ontario Hockey League draft, Bianchet became determined to keep going pushing his play forward.
A dedication to honing his craft was recognized by his coaches and peers with being named an assistant captain this season.
“We’ve seen Jalen mature right in front of eyes,” said Raiders head coach Mike Battah.
All of that helps Bianchet play bigger than his size.
At five-foot-10, 140-pounds, “I’m obviously not the biggest guy in the world…but I try to get in the weight room as much as I can to add more muscle to my frame. … I am focused on getting stronger and adding more elements to my game like finishing my checks.”
The next steps for Bianchet are unclear.
His goal is to have a successful major-junior hockey career, but he’s prepared to use his three remaining years of junior eligibility and attempt to earn a scholarship to a Division One hockey program in the United States.
A strong and confident final campaign with the Raiders could be a stepping stone.
“Hopefully it opens doors for me in the future,” said Bianchet.
Share with your friends on Facebook and join the largest network of hockey parents.
Patrick Hannon is a student in the Sport Journalism post-grad program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @phannon65