Jelsma to play in junior hockey showcase

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Beau Jelsma has secured his hockey home for the next few years, signing a standard player contract with the OHL Barrie Colts.

Jelsma – a 5’10”, 165-pound forward from Delmer, six kilometres west of Tillsonburg – was selected by the Colts in the third round, 55th overall at the 2020 OHL Priority Selection after splitting time between the Buffalo Junior Sabres 15U AAA team, where he scored 43 points (26 goals, 17 assists), and Brantford 99ers U16 AAA minor midgets where he had 21 points in just 12 playoff games.

Jelsma had planned to play for the Stratford Warriors of the GOJHL in the 2020-21 season but it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I AP’d for them (Stratford) in my minor midget year, so they reached out to me,” he said. “They were planning a mini-season and I was going to sign there, and just kind of wait to see what the season was doing. But they cancelled it, so I said ‘let’s get it done’ (and signed with Barrie).”

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The loss of the 2020-21 hockey season was frustrating for hockey players across Ontario.

“We trained so hard all year round pretty much. I was training hard last year before the draft, during the draft, and all summer,” said Jelsma. “I went pretty hard hoping there would be a season and it just never happened. It felt like, ‘What did I just do all this work?’ But really, it’s made me a better hockey player in the end. I’m just going to keep developing and I’m already making the next step a little easier.

“To be honest I don’t think it (the loss of a season) hurt me at all. I think it really helped me to keep training to get bigger, to get stronger and work on all my skills. I think it really helped me. Obviously I want to play games, but I think my game has really changed, so I think I’m ready to make the next step. Speed, shot, my hockey IQ, the physicalness of it … just adapting to that next level, a lot bigger bodies than minor midget.”

The next step is playing his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League.

“They want me to step into the lineup next year, that’s what their plan is, and see how it goes. Give ‘er my all and try to win a championship with them.”

The OHL plans to have a full season in 2021-22 starting with camps in September and league play in October.

“The OHL has always been a dream of mine to play in ever since I was little,” said Jelsma in a May 7 statement. “It’s going to be such an honour to make it come true with the team and atmosphere of the Barrie Colts. I can’t wait to suit up in the navy and gold.

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“I am very excited to make the next step in my hockey career. I want to thank my parents but also my whole family for helping me to get to where I am today.”

Colts assistant general manager Rob Stewart, who called on the signing day with the team’s acting general manager Marty Williamson, has been impressed with the level of commitment Jelsma has demonstrated and is looking forward to what he can bring to the Colts line-up.

“Beau has remained extremely committed to improving his game over what has been a challenging year for all players,” said Stewart on the Colts’ website. “He brings a high compete level with some good speed and skill that will be a great addition to our group moving forward.”

When ice was available, Jelsma trained twice a week with a professional power skating coach – his mother Penny – and a small group of OHL players.

“Then I was going to a skill session with Andrew Fritz (Waterford). And then I was just here, there and everywhere playing hockey,” he said. “Back in February-March, I was skating every day with the London Knights at Budweiser (Arena). Just some OHL players from all around, we all got ice there and the Hunters ran the practices.”

Jelsma is in Erie, Pennsylvania this week for the PBHH Invitational Junior Showcase.

Organized by OHL players Andrew Perrott (Owen Sound), who Jelsma has played hockey with a bit, Ryan Beck (Saginaw), Brendan Hoffman (Erie) and Ryan Humphrey (Hamilton), the non-profit June 1-13 tournament was created to give junior hockey players a chance to appear in front of NHL scouts before the July 23-24 NHL Entry Draft.

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“I flew in this morning (Sunday), so we go drop off all our equipment off at the dressing rooms tomorrow and get all settled in. Then we start games on Tuesday.

“There should be quite a few NHL scouts attending, so that should be all right.”

Jelsma, of course, is too young for the NHL draft, but advanced drafting – and playing against older players – should be a good thing.

“There’s only a few of us (younger players), I think there’s about 10 or so 2004’s. The rest is older… a lot older, ‘03, ‘02, ‘01.”

It won’t be his first opportunity to play games against OHL calibre talent.

“Every Saturday morning the London Knights put on a (uncoached) game and it’d be five-on-five. Guys from all around would come. I feel real comfortable, I feel like I’m ready to go. The first couple of games, obviously, you’ve got to adapt right? Once I got into those third and fourth games, I felt like I was performing how I wanted to perform.”

Games at the Erie showcase, which is not affiliated with the OHL, will be live-streamed. The rosters and schedules for six teams are available on the PBHH website (pbhhinvitational.com).

Ingersoll’s Gavin Bryant, a 2nd round selection by Owen Sound in the 2020 draft, will also be playing in the PBHH showcase.

cabbott@postmedia.com

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