In his second full season with the Junior Senators, defenseman Adrien Bisson has embraced the challenge of continuing to improve his game as he battles for playing time on one of the best teams in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).
The Cornwall native was a surprise draft pick of Ottawa Head Coach and General Manager Martin Dagenais in 2014. He played for the Junior Senators U18 squad in 2015-16, but managed to get into 10 games with the big team. Last year he earned a spot on Ottawa roster.
Bisson struggled through several injuries, including a separated shoulder, but paired with New York native Craig McCabe, he finished strong helping his team win the CCHL’s Yzerman Division. In all, he played in 40 games and posted 13 points. In the Junior Senators’ run to the Bogart Cup finals, the 6-1, 165-pounder appeared in 14 playoff games, tallying a goal and an assist along the way. A nice showing for a first-year player.
This time around Dagenais often reunites Bisson with McCabe to form a hard-nosed, physical pairing. After collecting just 16 penalty minutes a year ago, Bisson has already been whistled for 36 penalty minutes this season in 23 matches to go along with a goal and 11 assists.
“I’m trying to step it up, build off of last year and bring my ‘A’ game every night,” Bisson said. “As a rookie you tend to avoid scrums and play very carefully, doing things like chipping the puck out of the zone. Now I’m trying to do everything bigger. I want to be more of a physical presence, make harder passes, or get the puck out of the zone to a teammate. Playing with Craig helps, too. We’re good friends off the ice and we have a pretty good idea of what each other will do.”
For his first two years with the Ottawa organization, Bisson commuted from Cornwall. He’s now studying at Ottawa University and living with the family of teammate and fellow defender Aldéric Denis in Gloucester.
“Adrien has great potential, but like last season he’s had a tough first half,” Dagenais said. “He’s still a young defenceman and we’re working with him. We expect Adrien will be an important player for us come playoff time. He needs to be tougher to play against, that’s the main thing for him right now.”
Bisson acknowledged that expectations are high this season with the Fred Page Cup looming and that there is a lot of competition for playing time.
“The coaches want to put the best team on the ice and everything is geared to winning a championship,” the lefty-shooting Bisson said. “They expect us to overachieve every night. They don’t want us to just show up at the Fred Page as ‘hosts.’ As a player just doing your job is not enough. All the little things count. You can’t take nights off.”
On a personal level, Bisson’s goal is to play two more seasons in the CCHL, while continuing his studies.
“Ultimately I want to be the kind of player who is known across the league,” Bisson said. “When other teams play us I want to be one of the guys they have to think about.”