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BATTLE FOR POSSESSION – Anthony Duhamel (21) battles for the puck during an exhibition game against the Vancouver North West Hawks on Sept. 5 in Prince George, B.C.

Former Whitehorse player making his mark in B.C.

Anthony Duhamel, 16, plays for the U17 AAA team Cariboo Cougars,

By Morris Prokop on October 6, 2021

Anthony Duhamel, 16, plays for the U17 AAA team Cariboo Cougars, an elite team out of Prince George, B.C. that plays in the BC Elite Hockey League (BCEHL). The 5 foot, 8 inch, 165 pound forward has also played for the Yukon Rivermen in Whitehorse.

This is the Yellowknife native’s second year in the Cougars program.

The Star spoke to U17 Cougars coach Stew Lambert about Duhamel, while they were on the team bus headed for Vancouver for a couple of games against the Valley West Giants last weekend. Lambert, who was also Duhamel’s coach last year, says Duhamel is ready to assume a leadership role.

“He’s doing really well, actually. He’ll be a leader for us,” says Lambert.

“He’ll probably be our captain or assistant captain.”

Lambert says it’s not unusual for a second year player to be a captain, but adds that Duhamel showed leadership last year as a 15 year old.

According to Lambert, Duhamel brings many strengths to his game.

“He’s a good skater. He sees the ice well. Positionally, he’s really strong. He knows where to be on the ice. He’s also a leader on the bench, so guys look up to him. He’s pretty vocal and he stays positive with everyone … he also leads by example, where he’s normally the hardest working guy on the ice. He’s passionate about the game, which is a big deal as well.”

Like any young player, Lambert says Duhamel has room for improvement.

“I would say he could maybe improve on stick-handling, like being able to stickhandle with speed, and being able to keep your head up and kind of know what’s going on around you. Being able to see passes where the guy might not look necessarily open, but he is, and just being able to thread passes into tighter spaces.”

Lambert thinks Duhamel’s character could help take him to the next level.

“I think he has potential to go places, just based on his work ethic, and how much he loves the game. I think he’s a guy that takes it more seriously, and is willing to put in the work during the offseason. He’s a guy that will train all summer, and then he’ll come to camp … he’s always trying to better himself.

“Those are the kind of guys you usually see get to that next level. The ones that put the work in. Like, work hard in practice, listen to their coaches, take everything in, and apply it. I think if he keeps doing that, he should have potential to go places.”

Lambert says the Cougar program has an educational element to it.

“They have a school hockey element to it. Anyone who plays for our Cariboo organization, they enrol into – the school’s called PGSS (Prince George Secondary School). All the kids go to that school and they actually have a designated hockey class … they’re not on the ice every day, but the days they’re not on the ice they’re doing drylands (training) or maybe a fun activity or something.

“Usually the school hockey will be ice at least three times during the week and its like a dryland or other activity the other two,” says Lambert.

“The coaches they have at the school hockey program are awesome. We communicate with them. They’ll kind of ask us like ‘hey, what things are you noticing that maybe we should be working on with them?’

I’d say it’s more skill-based driven, just because like for our teams, because we actually only practice with actual coaches two times a week, sometimes three times a week, your kind of practices are tailored more toward like, systems, so power play, penalty kill, kind of what your strategy is for the game coming up that week – like it’s more strategy and system built, just because you only have those two practices.

“The school hockey focuses on the skill side of it that you don’t have time to do in your practice. So they’ll work on specific stick handling drills, specific shooting drills.”

The Cougars do a lot of traveling.They play pretty well every weekend during the course of the season, playing two games with the same team per weekend. It usually works out that the team alternates between playing at home one weekend and away the next weekend. Other teams in the league include Vancouver teams, and squads from Kelowna, Kamloops, the Okanagan, and Vancouver Island.

They usually have a tournament around Christmas in Kelowna or Richmond, B.C. This year the team will be heading to Kelowna to play over New Year’s.

BCEHL playoffs take place in February.

As for Duhamel himself, he says he’s ready for a new season.

“I feel good. Finally getting the relief of getting back into a natural season.”

Duhamel explains how he got here.

“I knew the coach of the bantam team pretty well … they offered me a spot for a tryout … in bantam, and then … it felt closer to home than any other places I could have went to, so that’s kind of what I chose,” relates Duhamel.

“I followed through (with) the program, and now I’m here playing for Stew (Coach Lambert).”

This is Duhamel’s third year playing in Prince George, having started in bantam, continuing in U16, and now the U17 program.

He is billeting in Prince George, which he calls an “awesome experience.”

As for influences, Duhamel says coaches are a big one.

“For sure, Stew being one, and then we have Mirsad Mujcin, the coach that got me here.”

Duhamel lists his skating, speed, integrity, will and commitment to the game as his strengths, as well as leadership.

“Ive always been an assistant captain or captain on any team I’ve ever played for.”

Duhamel says there are always areas for improvement.

“I love how I play defensively, but I can always get better. Finishing scoring on a breakaway. Scoring when you’re coming down the side … of the net. There’s always the little things that (you) can always improve; I think I put a lot of time into them. But there’s always more to get better.”

How far does he want to take his career?

“Hopefully as far as it can go. NCAA maybe.”

Regarding NCAA scholarships, Duhamel says “that would be huge.”

Duhamel says he’d like to take a shot at the NHL, but also has aspirations to play for Team Canada.

“That would be as big as the NHL … I’ve known guys that have played for them and it seems like an unreal experience … I’ve played at Canada Winter Games and that was unbelievable.”

Comments (2)

Up 1 Down 0

No opinion on Oct 14, 2021 at 5:18 pm

Remember Bobby house? Yukoner who made the ol NHL

Up 2 Down 1

Suzanne Duhamel, mamie on Oct 8, 2021 at 5:15 pm

Bravo mon grand

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