Jordan Spence continues to grow and mature with the Moncton Wildcats.
“I’m more of a leader this year,” the Cornwall defenceman said recently. “It’s my second year and I’m more confident. I got bigger and I got stronger.”
The Los Angeles Kings selected the five-foot-10, 173-pound blue-liner in the fourth round (95th overall) of June’s NHL draft. He attended camp with them in the summer.
“I think that helped me a lot when I came back, just to see all the little things that the pro guys did on and off the ice,” he said.
Spence, who turns 19 on Feb. 24, is working to improve his play in his own zone this season.
“I’m an undersized defenceman, so that's why I just have to do the little, simple plays and do the things I’m good at,” he said.
Daniel Lacroix, who took over the reins of the Wildcats on Dec. 23, likes what he has seen from Spence in their relatively short time together.
“He’s great kid. A kid that comes to work every day with a good way about him. ... He wants to get better, he wants to learn,” the head coach said Friday. “He’s a very cerebral player that analyzes and plays the games with his mind.”
Spence is known for being able to make a good first pass and a willingness to learn.
“When I’ve asked him to focus on certain aspects of his game, he’s responded well. I’ve seen a direct correlation in the next game,” Lacroix said. “I don't want him to play safe all the time. I want him to push himself to be right on that edge of between succeeding and failing so that he improves.”
Spence and Summerside’s Jeremy McKenna skated with his the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals’ junior A team during the Christmas break. Spence played for the Caps in 2017-18 and opened a lot of scouts’ eyes after going undrafted in the 2017 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft.
“I’ll never forget this team,” Spence said. “It was a great experience and that kind of helped me to play in the Q.”
Lacroix said he’s come a long way in a short period of time.
“When you look at where he started off three years ago, that’s a steep, steep climb that he’s done. He’s a very bright kid that has done well in a short amount of time.”
Spence is a key piece for a Wildcats team built to win this season.
Already with a strong core that included McKenna, Mika Cyr, Alexander Khovanov, Jakob Pelletier and Olivier Rodrigue, the Wildcats added veteran Halifax Mooseheads Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jared McIsaac as well as Baie-Comeau’s Gabriel Fortier during the trade period.
“It’s been great,” Spence said of the team’s first-half success. “We’re having a great season and hopefully we can do the same in the second half.”
The Wildcats (30-12-0-0), who are third in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings, come to town Sunday to play an Islanders squad that has struggled in recent games against the league’s upper echelon. Game time is 3 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
Charlottetown was 23-18-5-0 before Friday’s game in Saint John, N.B., against the Sea Dogs. They host the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (25-17-2-1) today at 7 p.m.
Need to know
Who – A Cornwall native who plays for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats. This is his second season with Moncton.
Season Level GP G A Pts
2016-17 Mjr. Midget 33 3 16 19
2017-18 Junior A 50 13 39 52
2018-19 Mjr. Junior 68 6 43 49
2019-20 Mjr. Junior 38 5 27 32
Head coach Daniel Lacroix said: “With his curve the last three years, the sky’s the limit for him.”
The latest – The Wildcats come to Charlottetown on Sunday.
Head to head
A look at the meetings between the Charlottetown Islanders and Moncton Wildcats this season.
Moncton 3 at Charlottetown 2 OT
Charlottetown 5 at Moncton 3
Charlottetown 2 at Moncton 3
Moncton 1 at Charlottetown 2
Charlottetown 2 at Moncton 3 OT
Moncton at Charlottetown, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 1
Charlottetown at Moncton, 4 p.m.
Friday, March 20
Moncton at Charlottetown, 7:30 p.m.
Did you know? The 2016 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft occurred at the Eastlink Centre. The top four picks were F Benoit-Olivier Groulx, D Jared McIsaac, G Olivier Rodrigue and F Gabriel Fortier. They all are with the Wildcats this season.