Every young draft eligible prospect handles pressure differently. The constant attention and high expectations of a draft year cause some players to struggle or underachieve.
In a year in which most Quebec-based Midget AAA players only played a handful of games due to the pandemic, Alexis Bourque focused all of his attention and efforts on improving his overall game. The dream to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League continues to fuel his journey in the game.
“Right now, my focus is on trying to get through this season,” admitted Bourque. “I’m trying to focus on the present and not worry about the future, especially in these times.”
“This year has been a lot more difficult than last season due to the fact that we never really knew what was going on, or if we’d be able to play like we used to”, he stressed. “I’ve concentrated on the things I can control and, with that attitude, it keeps me in a better state of mind.”
At 6’1 and 172 pounds, the 15-year-old possesses not only the stature but also the skill to become a bonafide top-six power forward at the next level. The highly touted prospect drew inspiration from a plethora of NHLer’s as he came up through the ranks.
“I grew up looking up to a lot of different players. I’ve tried to model certain aspects from each of their games to mine. Alex Ovechkin was the first player I looked up to because he had such a good shot and a really good offensive instinct,” said Bourque, who’s a scoring winger himself.
“Then I realized that having a good shot wasn’t the only thing a player needs to be good in the game of hockey. At that point, I started looking up to players like Sidney Crosby and Mark Stone. Both of them are players with extremely good hockey IQ and, on top of that, they have one of the best defensive sticks in the game.”
The Gatineau native put up impressive offensive numbers at the Bantam AAA level the past two seasons (55GP-48G-34A-82P), but is fully aware of how big the jump will be to play and excel at the major junior level.
“Honestly, with the way our season has gone so far, without playing any real games at the Midget AAA level, it’s hard for me to imagine playing at that level [next season]. But I am putting in the effort on and off the ice to make it happen,” admitted Bourque.
“Since the beginning of the season, I have worked on several aspects of my game, but I’ve mostly worked on improving the small details that allow you to get to the next level. Even though the draft is coming soon, my priorities remain the same ; being an integral part of my team while taking my game to the next level,” Bourque said with confidence.
That confident young man is the same one who’s been turning the heads of many QMJHL scouts over the past months. Despite not playing in any regular season games this year, Bourque has managed to make a name for himself.
“Despite some technical elements that still need to be fine-tuned, Alexis’ feel for the game allows him to dominate opponents. He is young and still has plenty of time to progress with his skating,” said Claude Gosselin of the QMJHL Central Scouting Department.
“Alexis keeps his feet moving, supports his teammates at all times and is present in high traffic areas, especially near the opposing net,” he adds. “His backchecking and defensive involvement are equally impressive. Alexis has all the qualities to become a very good QMJHL player.”
While he’s personally taken every step necessary to better his rank ahead of next June’s Entry Draft, Alexis Bourque is still quick to credit his parents and coaches for their unwavering support.
“My family has always been there for me, even for those practices early in the morning,” he says. “They invested time and money to enable me to play my sport. Whether it be practices, regular season games or tournaments and even spring hockey tournaments, they spent so much time in the arena and time away from their jobs for me.”
“As for the coaching staff with L’Intrépide, they helped me a lot this season. They never changed their approach and they coached us as if we could be back playing soon,” Bourque said. “That strategy helped me progress. It always made me push myself to get better and not
think about when my next game would be. I think I developed more as a player because of their coaching methodology and dedication.”
Every young player handles adversity and pressure differently. Alexis Bourque continues to use those aspects of the game to improve, which definitely sets him apart from other players his age.