by Warren Rappleyea
Second-year defenseman Mathis Bédard is making his presence known on the ice. He’s been solid in his own zone and he’s helped out the Ottawa Junior Sens offense to the tune of six goals and 11 assists.
He’s also assumed a leadership role as one of the team’s alternate captains. Quiet by nature, the 5-11, 184-pounder likes to lead by example and lets his effort and play speak for itself.
“I’m really not much of a talker,” he explained. “That means always working hard in practice, stressing good habits and encouraging the other guys, particularly the younger guys.
When he does discuss the intricacies of the game with teammates, Bédard prefers to do it one-on-one. “I think that’s just better,” he said. “That’s kind of my approach. The guys like it and it’s more of an encouraging back-and-forth conversation.”
After an uneven start to the season, Ottawa has picked up the pace and is now in the thick of the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) standings. Bédard has helped lead the way at both ends of the ice. Defensively, he’s been a key player as OJS has allowed just 80 goals against, fifth-best in the league. Over the past seven matches the Quebec native has posted an equal number of points and his 17 points on the year tops the Junior Sens.
With an inexperienced, but improving group of young players, Bédard’s offensive abilities have been welcomed by the Ottawa coaching staff.
“I think my role is kind of an extension of what it was at the end of last year when I was able to jump into the play more,” Bédard said. “My decision-making with the puck is a little quicker this year and I put on weight during the off-season so that has helped with the physical aspects and playing the body.”
With Ottawa continuing to improve, Bédard has high expectations heading into the second half of the season.
“We were a little streaky, but that’s where leadership really comes in,” he noted. “You have to persevere. You can’t let the lows get too low and you can’t let the high get too high. Struggling and coming through it is a positive. The guys know they can bounce back.”
Bédard understands what his younger teammates are going through from his own experience last season. Making the jump from the Québec Collegiate Hockey League to the CCHL required adjustments to the faster league and it’s more structured approach. He worked diligently during and after practice, studied video regularly, and as the season progressed Bedard’s ice time and responsibility increased and he helped OJS win the Bogart Cup.
“It’s all about consistency, and we’re getting there,” Bédard explained. “I really think we can go all the way. We have a great group of guys with plenty of talent, and they’re putting in the work. As a team, we’re getting better with every game.”