by Warren Rappleyea
As a first-year player, Jacob Winsor made significant contributions as the Ottawa Junior Senators won the Bogart Cup and made their way to the Centennial Cup. Now the Newmarket, ON native is back with a new role: team captain for OJS.
Winsor’s work ethic and team focus, which he displayed a year ago, were obvious during training camp. So much so that Winsor’s teammates unanimously selected the defenseman to be their leader for the 2023-24 campaign.
“Jacob leads a lot by example,” Junior Sens Coach Charlie Lavigne explained. “Whether it’s at practice, games, or the gym, he’s always early. And he always puts in the work. Every time. He understands that we have to win as a team, and he really fosters that environment.”
For his part, Winsor said he learned from watching the veteran leaders like last season’s captain, Wil Murphy, among others. And that the baton has been passed down to him.
“I knew coming in that I would have a more mature role this season because so many of our veterans graduated,” Winsor said. “I know from my own experience how veteran leaders can positively impact new players. For example, it’s all about what you do after you make a mistake. It’s not about the mistake. Mistakes happen.”
After winning three of its first five games, Ottawa then struggled through a five-game losing streak that included back-to-back overtime losses to the Navan Grads. Despite the defeats at the hands of Navan, Winsor said the Junior Senators played well.
“Our guys have pretty much worked on doing the right things that the coaches stress,” Winsor added. “A guy can skate around the ice and go full speed every shift and not accomplish anything. We want to make the right play. Sometimes that means stopping pucks, taking the man out, making or taking a hit, dumping the puck, etc. That’s what leads to success.”
That certainly paid off for Ottawa, as the Junior Sens have won seven of their last 11 games, including a 2-1 shootout win against the Smiths Falls Bears, who currently sit atop the Central Canada Hockey League’s (CCHL) Robinson Division. Winsor’s first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner in a 4-2 victory against the Pembroke Lumber Kings.
A 6-5 shootout win on Nov. 17 at the Memorial Centre over the Brockville Braves highlighted the Junior Sens’ growth as a team. Ottawa took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, only to have the hosts score three times in the second session.
The Junior Sens plugged away in the third, scoring three times, only to have the Braves draw even with just nine seconds remaining in regulation. A scoreless overtime set up the dramatic win as Alexandre Cote netted the lone goal in the shootout.
On the season, the 6-0, 205-pounder has played solidly in his own end, while also contributing a goal and four assists as his team has begun to climb in the CCHL standings.
“I like to play a physical game,” he said. “We have plenty of guys who can score the goals. I want to be a presence on the ice, where the players on the other team know, or should know, that I’m out.”
Off the ice, Winsor is studying kinesiology at the University of Ottawa, and he occasionally gets advice from OJS assistant Mark Fratarcangeli, who is finishing medical school there.
As for his future, the 19-year-old is hoping to continue his playing career at the NCAA or University level, while pursuing his degree, and is hoping to enter the physical therapy or medical field.
Now, however, Winsor is focused on helping his team add to its points total and continue to improve as the season moves along.
“The goal as it is every year here is another league championship,” he added. “I’m fully confident this team can do that. I’m excited. We’re heading in the right direction, trusting the process and getting better night in and night out.”