Reality is what it is: at some point soon, the Oshawa Generals will be without their captain and best player.
We’re closing in on two weeks until the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships and pre-tournament camps are in full swing for the annual competition held this year in Ufa, Russia.
The challenges are lofty for some junior clubs and coaches, highlighted by replacing significant offensive numbers and/or heavy minutes on defense – and that’s not to mention a few teams losing their No. 1 goaltenders. The tournament also falls at a pivotal point in the junior hockey schedule, leaving a brief “get up to speed” period before the second half of the season gets going.
Boone Jenner was recently invited to Canada's national junior team selection camp, which will take place Dec. 11-13 at Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta (got all that?). It's a strong likelihood that Jenner represents Canada at the World Junior, as having played in the tournament before and filled an important two-way role at center ice.
And following another white-hot stretch, Jenner is tied for the goal-scoring lead in the entire Canadian Hockey League with 27 goals in 30 games – equal to only Josh Currie of Prince Edward Island (QMJHL).
Jenner is scoring goals at the right time and in large quantities, which is a lethal combination for teams charged with the task of defending him.
“I would be hard-pressed to think of a player I’ve coached that works this hard day in and day out,” Generals head coach DJ Smith told Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week.
Smith's club has been playing well of late, winning four straight from Nov. 23-30 before having that streak snapped in Sarnia last weekend. But full-team efforts are going to be even more crucial for Oshawa as it continues the pre-tournament schedule.
Until the day Jenner leaves, it’s a safe bet that he will be right in the thick of every game. His tenacious competitiveness has made him a game-breaking force in the OHL this year: just when you think you have him bottled up, he breaks your heart.
The moment it seems as if he’s had a quiet game, he’s created headlines in an instant.
Oshawa plays three divisional foes prior to the World Junior tournament, and it's a grade-A chance to over take the Belleville Bulls and get back into first place in the East Division. Jenner has been a pain in Belleville’s side all year long, and has a history of frustrating Kingston (to be fair, that’s a rather lengthy list).
His sole focus until the World Junior is on the Generals, and when we met up with him in Erie a few weeks back, he said staying focused has been a priority in this busy season.
“All I’m focused on doing is putting my team in the best position to win as many games as we can," Jenner said. "I'm worried about Oshawa. We want to win here.”