by Tim Morris
Ottawa Junior Senator defensemen Jacob Renaud-Viau’s path to the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) started like most young Canadian players.
“It was the classic pattern,” he said. “I started skating at two. I loved hockey and started playing it at five.”
At first, Renaud-Viau, a native of nearby Gatineau, QC, played forward before moving to the backline at seven. It proved to be the right move for the 6-1, 180-pound Junior Senator
“It was a big change,” said Renaud-Viau. “I liked it. It was good scoring goals but, switching to the defense, you have to defend your own zone.”
Because he started out playing up front and is more aware of what offensive players are trying to do, Renaud-Viau believes he is more than a stay-at-home defender.
“My focus is on the defensive play. I won’t take big risks,” the 20-year remarked. “But I can be a two-way player.”
His offensive abilities are obvious to OJS fans.
“My best offensive qualities are the first pass and vision,” he pointed out. “I can help us get out of the (defensive) zone with the pass.”
With two goals and 16 assists in 28 games, Renaud-Via has certainly given the offense a boost.
When asked what is the key to playing good defense, the Junior Senator responded, “trusting your instincts.”
How well Renaud-Viau has played for the Junior Senators this winter was highlighted when he was named to the CCHL Team Yzerman All-Star squad.
He’s a staple for us on defense,” Junior Sens Coach Charlie Lavigne said. “He probably has some of the best composure with the puck in the league. Jacob has the ability to really calm things down for us.”
As a captain of a young team looking to get to the post-season, Renaud-Viau knows the squad needs leadership, not just vocal, but leadership by example.
“I want to win, and I’ll do whatever it takes,” he noted, adding he’s determined that the Ottawa’s Bogart Cup success doesn’t end on his watch.
Renaud-Viau is an example of what going the extra mile can do. His path to the Junior Senators and the highest level of junior hockey was a bit bumpy. Along the way, the blueliner spent parts of two seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL.
He knows what it’s like to be cut from a squad and have people doubt you. He didn’t let those disappointments derail him, instead he used it as motivation (“I wanted to prove them wrong”) and to also take a look at himself and ask: was he doing everything to be the best player he can be?
It was during COVID that Renaud-Viau threw everything into becoming a better player.
“I was in the gym every day or working out at home,” the defenseman said. “Skating was a strength, but the extra focus made me a better skater and I developed a shot. I learned that you should always strive to be better.”
That all led to him becoming the Junior Senators captain and CCHL All-Star. His teammates have no better example of working hard that their captain.