AMHERST, N.S. – During the Fred Page Cup, Amherst’s Jacob Melanson played full shifts for the CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers, and they liked what they saw.
“He played against players who are 20 and 21-years-old and he didn’t back down,” said Jeff LeBlanc, Ramblers coach and general manager.
Melanson turned 16-years-old on April 22, just before the May 1 start of the Fred Page Cup.
“He was going after guys who are a lot bigger and stronger than him,” added LeBlanc. “For a player his age to have that kind of grit is hard to find in a hockey player these days.”
That grit also helps him win one-on-one battles.
“Winning the one-on-one battles that he wins can make the difference between winning and losing a game,” said LeBlanc.
Melanson also knows how to shoot the puck, a skill he showcased in the first game of the Fred Page Cup, scoring the Ramblers only goal in their 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
“He’s a shooter with a very good shot and he moves his feet when he shoots. That’s hard to do. That eludes goaltenders,” said LeBlanc.
He also stays cool under pressure.
“To play like he did in the Fred Page and the playoffs in front of his home town is not always easy,” said LeBlanc. “Your friends are watching you, your family is watching you, and for him to handle that pressure the way he did was great to see.”
Melanson’s skill-set has been noticed by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
QMJHL Central Scouting has him ranked 30th at the QMJHL entry draft on June 8 in Quebec City.
“He’s a highly touted pick from a small town and he’s handling it very well,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc says the draft is only the first part of playing in the QMJHL.
He said other factors that come into play for a rookie is how things go at training camp and how a he fits into the scheme of the team.
“I know Jacob’s going to work hard this summer,” said LeBlanc. “How things work out will also depend on what the needs are of the team that drafts him.”
There is little doubt Melanson will be a territorial pick for the Ramblers at the Maritime Hockey League draft, and there is little doubt that LeBlanc would love see Melanson play for the Ramblers again next season.
“He would definitely have a spot on our team, and we think we’d be able to develop him into a good Q player,” said LeBlanc.