It's been a busy 12 months for Sens prospect Jacob Bernard-Docker. After being selected 26th overall at the 2018 NHL Draft last June in Dallas, the 18-year-old defenceman is back in Ottawa this week and looking to make the most of his second Development Camp with the Senators.
"Last year coming out of Jr. A, it was a pretty big step up in competition coming straight into an NHL Development Camp," he said following this morning's on-ice session. "I think I handled it well but knowing what to expect this year and being more familiar with the process definitely helps prepare you to maximize your time here."
With one camp in Ottawa under his belt already, Bernard-Docker has seen the impact that this week can have on a prospect's development, especially when it comes time to take this information back with him to the University of North Dakota in the fall.
"I think the biggest takeaway for me from last year's Development Camp was how to act like a pro. Being around the trainers and development coaches, it's such a professional environment," Bernard-Docker said. "Whether it's in the gym or on the ice, you just have to try to absorb as much as you can while you're here and that's what I did last year before going back to North Dakota."
Bernard-Docker finished his freshman season with the Fighting Hawks recording 17 points (5G, 12A) in 36 games which was tied for the scoring-lead among UND defenders last year. The ties between the Senators and North Dakota continue to strengthen with fellow 2018 draftee Jonny Tychonick set to return for his sophomore season as well as 2019 32nd overall selection Shane Pinto committed to join them this fall.
"It's always nice to have some familiar faces around," said Bernard-Docker about his North Dakota teammates being a Development Camp with him this week. "I just met Shane the other day and he seems like a really good kid so I'm looking forward to playing with him this year. It's really a feather in the cap of the coaching staff at North Dakota and the way they run their program to see so many of us end up in NHL organizations, especially here in Ottawa."
Since breaking from Development Camp last summer, Bernard-Docker has stayed in regular contact with the Senators' development staff and he's hoping to showcase some of the improvements he's made to his game while in Ottawa this week.
"I want to show that I'm more aggressive and assertive in terms of jumping up into the play," he said. "I'm not scared to make a move here and there or use my size to my advantage."
Bernard-Docker also shared that he's using his time in Ottawa this week to help set himself up for success after earning an invite to Team Canada's National Junior Team Summer Development Camp next month along with UND teammate Tychonick. After being one of the final cuts to Canada's World Junior roster in 2018, he's looking to use last years' experience to help build towards a full-time spot on the team.
"I want to come in with a bit of a chip on my shoulder and it starts with not being satisfied with the result from last year which is something I use to help me get better every day," said Bernard-Docker. "The plan is to take in everything I can at Development Camp in Ottawa this week and then go back and train hard at North Dakota until that camp so I can go in knowing that I'm good enough to make the team."
For more info on this week's Development Camp, click here.