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OJS Player Profile: James Taylor

by Tim Morris

Ottawa Junior Senators rookie forward James Taylor needed some time to learn what his role with the club is.

As one of the youngest players on the team (he didn’t turn 18 until Feb. 21, 2022), it’s not a surprise that the 6-5, 225-pound Taylor needed to adjust to the level of play in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), while learning how he could help the Junior Senators on the ice.

But, around 25 games into the CCHL season everything began to click.

“I figured out that my role is to be physical, be hard on the forecheck and be responsible getting back on defense,” he explained. “Physicality is my strong suite. It’s not easy to knock me off the puck.”

Playing hard on both sides of the ice fits right into Ottawa’s emphasis on two-way players.

“It was a tough adjustment, the game is a lot faster and more physical,” he pointed out. “After a while, I settled down and the game slowed down for me. I had the puck on my stick longer.”

As the game slowed, so did Taylor’s decision making as he carried the puck longer and became more offensive.

Helping Taylor adjust was his Junior Senator teammates.

“It’s a good group of guys,” he remarked. “They are detail oriented and know how it (winning) is done on and off the ice.”

Taylor, a native of Ottawa, played basketball and lacrosse competitively along with hockey before choosing the skates.

“I enjoyed them all, it wasn’t until recently that I focused more on hockey,” said Taylor.  “The physicality of lacrosse, the cross checking prepares you for hockey and you also have to have stamina for lacrosse which helps (hockey).”

Because of his size, physicality has always been a part of Taylor’s game but, it hasn’t been easy. There are always players, he noted, that want to take him on and challenge him.

Taylor has learned “how to deal with it” in a clean way that doesn’t take him off the ice to the penalty box—he picked up just 22 minutes in penalties this season.

While he’s been more of physical defensive forward this season, Taylor has been a productive offensive player throughout his career.

He was an all-star in the U18 league with OJS’ U18 team in 2019-20. Throughout his AA and AAA career, Taylor averaged just under a point a game.

“My (offensive) role will expand as I get older,” said Taylor, who scored a game-winner against the Hawkesbury Hawks, Ottawa’s opponent in the Bogart Cup Finals, during the regular season.

When the pandemic shut down the previous two seasons, like other junior hockey players, Taylor found a way to stay active and work on his game.

“I really did what I can,” he explained. “I did skill skating sessions in the summer and that helped me a lot. I hadn’t really done that before and it’s made a difference.”

After adapting to the challenges of a new league during his early months with the Junior Senators, Taylor is enjoying the ride.

The defending CCHL champion Junior Senators have advanced to the Bogart Cup finals for the fifth consecutive time.

“It’s been exciting,” he said.