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Article: Jamie Blanchard's Goaltending Career
By Marcel Vander Wier

Share this with your friends! Jamie Blanchard’s goaltending career began in the shadow of the old Charlottetown Forum.

It was there in the aged rink’s parking lot where the young road hockey goalie began honing the craft that would later become his life’s love.

Now more than three decades later, Blanchard is still at it.

The 43-year-old has served as the P.E.I. Rocket’s goalie coach since 2003.

“I’ve always been passionate about goaltending,” Blanchard said recently.

He got his start between the pipes when he was 12 years old, and moved quickly up the minor hockey ranks. In 1985, he got his first taste of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Verdun Jr. Canadiens.

Midway through his second year in Verdun, he requested a trade that saw him finish his career with the Granby Bisons.

Blanchard went on to play five years at the University of Prince Edward Island, leading his club to three championship series and one national tournament.

He joined the coaching ranks directly after graduation, first with the university, then the Abbies, and most recently the Rocket.

Coaching QMJHL goalies is both challenging and rewarding, said Blanchard.

“The challenge is keeping the kids fresh over a long season, knowing when to push them and when not to,” he said. “The reward is seeing a kid excel and go on to become a good citizen.”

Blanchard points to 2011 Rocket graduate Evan Mosher as a shining example of why he’s in the coaching business.

“Evan is the epitome of a kid that never gave up,” Blanchard said. “He came in as a 16-year-old, ended up having to play a year in Miramichi, and finally got a chance to start when he was 20.

“Seeing a kid like Mosher go on to university hockey and become a good citizen? That’s the reward.”

Current starter Maxime Lagacé credits Blanchard for helping him retain his mental toughness through a rough season that will see the Rocket finish last.

“I have had ups and downs,” Lagacé admitted. “But he’s always there for me to help me through the rough times. He’s always there to tell you what you did right and wrong. It’s good to have him around.”

The 6-foot-2, 168-pound Lagacé received a tryout with the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to this season. He said Blanchard is doing all he can to guide him back to the bigs.

“He knows what it takes to go to the next level,” said Lagacé of his coach. “He’s been helping me keep focused on my dreams.”

The 19-year-old said Blanchard has helped him use his big frame to fill the net, remain calm after goals against, be aggressive when challenging shooters, and to have fun.

“I tell my goalies to be smart and read the play,” Blanchard said. “Control the crease. Don’t try and look past the crease. And then watch the puck into your body.

“My job is to build up these raw talents,” he added. “Seeing the kids excel and reaching their goals is my reward.”

Team president and governor Serge Savard Jr. said Blanchard has played a big role in creating the goalie factory that the Rocket has become known as.

The team has churned out the likes of Jonathan Boutin, Ryan Mior, Antoine Lafleur and Mosher.

“If we look at the history of the Rocket, we’re looked at by the league as a team that brings out the most goalies,” said Savard Jr.

Savard Jr.’s relationship with Blanchard dates back to 1985, when they both played in Verdun. Blanchard joined the Rocket when the club relocated from Montreal to Charlottetown.

“Jamie’s done a very outstanding job,” Savard Jr. said. “I’ve always admired him because he loves the game and he knows the game really well. I really respect what he does.”

Alongside his duties with the Rocket, Blanchard runs a P.E.I. goalie school www.blanchardgoaltending.com, and sells goalie equipment via www.jaghockey.com.

Blanchard lives with his wife Margaret, and three daughters in Charlottetown.

 

 


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