ERIE, Pa. – Boone Jenner would play 60 minutes every night if it meant his team winning hockey games.
That’s the type of player and person the 19-year-old from Dorchester, Ont. is: selfless, engaging, and a natural born leader. Those in hockey say it’s no coincidence that a healthy (and at times, dominant) Jenner is at the epicenter of the first-place Oshawa Generals, a club that hasn’t enjoyed much success in recent years.
And if you ask Jenner, he isn’t doing anything he wouldn’t normally do. He is Oshawa’s No. 1 center and jack-of-all-trades at both ends of the rink, a characteristic that has made him one of the top prospects in the Blue Jackets organization.
In the Generals’ 6-1 loss in Erie on Saturday night, Jenner was one of the most dangerous players in the rink: dominant in the face-off circle and adept at controlling the game in the middle of the ice.
The only thing he didn’t do is score, but he’s been doing plenty of that as the Ontario Hockey League’s second-leading scorer (33 points in 22 games) and second-leading goal scorer (17).
“I worked as hard as I ever have this past summer to get ready for the season,” Jenner told BlueJackets.com. “I clicked with my line mates right away; we’ve been playing well together and we feed off each other really well, too. We’re moving the puck quick and backing teams up.
“I credit those guys for a lot of my success. They’ve helped me out a lot.”
The players Jenner refers to are OHL rookies Tyler Biggs and Michael Dal Colle, two wingers loaded with skill who have been key contributors to the Jenner line. Biggs, a native of suburban Cincinnati, played one year at Miami (Ohio) before joining the Generals.
Dal Colle, 17, is the greenest of the group but has garnered deserved attention for a terrific rookie season.
“Both of those guys are such good players,” Jenner said. “Michael is a young guy but he’s so talented and has great vision. He’s going to be a real good player for a long time, and he already is.
“Tyler’s a big body out there and he helps us out a lot, creating room for our line and working down low. We’re clicking because we’re using our strengths and, to me, that’s where we can credit a lot of our success.”
Perhaps Jenner’s greatest asset is his north-south game; rarely if ever does he waste energy by moving the puck in a direction other than toward the opponents’ net.
First-year Generals coach D.J. Smith has brought many of the philosophies that made the Windsor Spitfires a successful, up-tempo hockey team to Oshawa. Before joining the Generals this summer, Smith spent six years as an assistant coach with the Spitfires – including back-to-back Memorial Cup championships in 2009 and 2010.
It’s a style that seems to be tailor-made for Jenner and he has taken full advantage of it.
“We’re wearing teams out down low and we’re playing the right way for the most part,” Jenner said. “We’ve made some mistakes that have cost us, but mostly, we’re battling out there every night. If we keep playing hard, things are going to come our way.
“Speed and forechecking are such a big part of our game. If your team can play the right way whether you’re winning or losing, it’s going to be a big part of your success. You have to keep on it and stay committed; that’s what any coach wants and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The commitment aspect may be difficult for some players in Jenner’s position, but he can’t emphasize enough how focused he is on the Oshawa Generals. He has been a bit of a world traveler the past few months, starting with Blue Jackets development camp in July, taking part in the Canada-Russia Challenge in August, and then returning to Oshawa in time to prepare the season.
Jenner recently served as captain for Team OHL in the CHL Subway Series exhibition on Guelph, Ont., and then rejoined his Generals teammates for a weekend of three games in three nights.
Despite the grueling schedule, Jenner wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Twenty games into the season, you still want to keep your legs going and even more so because we’re playing a lot of hockey right now,” Jenner said. “There’s a lot of three-in-threes, the Subway Super Series, and other things. You just have to look out for your body and do the things that can re-energize you for every game.
“I’m just trying to help the team win games. My focus is on Oshawa and making sure we’re doing everything we can to be successful. We’re taking it game-by-game and we just have to keep that mentality to get where we want to go.”
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