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Gamache learning new role

Trevor Gamache was a scorer in junior, but the former Fort William North Star doesn’t see much of the offensive end of the ice these days.
Trevor Gamache was a scorer in junior, but the former Fort William North Star doesn’t see much of the offensive end of the ice these days.

A rookie forward grinding it out on the Lakehead Thunderwolves third line, the two-time Superior International Junior Hockey League scoring champion has a different role to play this season, one he seems to have adapted to with relative ease.

The 21-year-old Longlac native, who has two assists in six OUA contests, has proven to be one of the hardest-working Thunderwolves on the ice, unafraid to use his 6-foot-2 frame to play smash-and-grab in the corner, going after pucks with reckless abandon that has endeared him to the Fort William Gardens faithful.

So far, so good, he said.

"I think I’m doing pretty good. I’m used to scoring a lot more points, but I’m doing what I have to do for the team. I think I’ve kind of been given a hard-worker’s type role, go out there and hit, penalty kill, do whatever I have to do to get some ice time," Gamache said Wednesday morning after coach Joel Scherban put his squad – winners of two straight thanks to a weekend sweep of Guelph – through in preparation for a road trip and a pair of dates against York on Friday and Saturday.

"It’s a lot easier before the game. There’s not so much pressure. You just have to go out there and work hard. Like I said, hitting, working hard and blocking shots, those are easy things. Putting the puck in the net’s a lot harder."

That’s something he did 66 times the past two seasons with the North Stars. It’s what caught Scherban’s attention last year, when Gamache was a training camp invitee, but failed to make the squad coming out of camp.

Unlike his predecessors, who were skeptical of the talent emerging from the SIJHL, Scherban has shown a willingness to recruit from the Tier 2 league, having brought in North Star alumnus Brennan Menard last season and Gamache and Stars teammate Ryan Magill this season.

Over the years the Wolves have had a few SIJHL grads sprinkled into the lineup, most notably defenseman Ryan Baird, whose journey back to the Gardens first led him through Lake Superior State University. Others, like blue-liner Jordan C. Smith and forward Nathan Breukelman drifted in and out of the lineup before being cut loose.

Scherban shows no objections to mining the league of its best talent.

"I think it depends on the player. There have been players who have come up out of the SIJHL who have made our team, but I think they’ve been a little bit more one-dimensional. They’ve been great offensively and they’ve come to this level and they haven’t necessarily been able to step into an offensive role," Scherban said.

"They’ve been limited defensively. With both Trevor and Ryan, they’ve come in and they’re more responsible defensively and we’re comfortable playing them in a role like that. Hopefully their offensive ability does start to improve as they move through our program."

Gamache said it speaks a lot to the caliber of player the SIJHL is producing these days.
"It looks good on the league when you’ve got three guys that are performing decently well," he said.

Claw marks
: LU forward Devin Welsh scored his first goal in two seasons during Saturday night’s 8-2 win over Guelph. The goal came two days shy of the two-year anniversary of his last tally, scored at home against Laurier’s Jeff MacDougald on Oct. 25, 2008.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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