Kelowna Minor Hockey player Travis Blanleil is used to being an offensive guy. Through minor hockey the now 17-year-old Blanleil was routinely one of his team’s top point producers.
So it should come as no surprise that the second year Westside Warriors forward is starting to produce consistently for the Warriors this season.
“That’s what I have been working towards,” said Blanleil, prior to leaving for a Wednesday night game in Merritt. “I was more of an offensive guy before last year. Last year was a bit different role for me, playing as an energy player. But I’ve been working on being that top guy who’s out there with a minute left and is relied upon to score goals.”
And by working, Blanleil means working hard and competing night in and night out. It’s that work ethic that has allowed Warriors coach Rylan Ferster to rely on the Kelowna Minor Hockey product more and more as the season moves along.
“I think the first thing you notice about Travis is his competitive nature,” said Ferster. “He plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Anything Travis does he does it with effort. He’s got a good skill set, he’s feisty and plays a lot bigger than he is.”
Blanleil definitely has some good examples of how to compete. Both of his older brothers have played junior hockey before him: Kyle, who overcame a serious back problem, and Chad, who continues to play NCAA Div. III hockey at Wisconsin Superior. His dad Andre and uncles Maurice and Rene are well known in local sporting circles as well.
“I would say the work ethic is what I have learned from my family,” said Travis. “I try to be one of the hardest working guys on and off the ice.”
In the off-season that meant training hard nearly every day, trying to get stronger and better. During the season it mean’s leaving everything on the ice, each and every shift. It doesn’t hurt that his skill set is catching up with that work ethic.
“He’s a combination of skill and grit,” said Ferster. “He’s got nice hands and can make some plays but he also plays with grit. He’s unique in having that combination.”
After starting out his junior career as a fourth line banger, Blanleil has worked his way up the depth chart this year with the Warriors.
With Westside now icing a younger team that is looking to play well this year and build for the coming years, it looks like Travis Blanleil will be a big part of the Warriors nucleus moving ahead. He’s not ruling out a run at the playoffs this year and is excited about the group of players moving forward.
“It’s been tough to get momentum this year but we’re starting to pick up steam,” he said. “We’re starting to play more as a team. We have a good group of guys and a lot of guys coming back next year so we’re optimistic.”