Photo by Rena Laverty
Thomas Bordeleau has had two very important people to lean on during his hockey career, his parents Sebastian and Chantal. It helped that his dad played professional hockey for 17 years, so he served as an important resource as Bordeleau has emerged as an NHL Draft prospect.
“My dad and I have talked about the pressure and how to deal with it and not to put too much weight on myself,” said Bordeleau. “I can't think about [the draft] but rather, I need to do what is expected of me. After one game, you will have another game and you have to remember that one bad game will not affect you. It's really how you handle it. It is something that we talked about.
“Both he and my mom have really helped me handle pressure and I have learned how to be comfortable in stressful situations.”
Understanding those situations really helped the 5-foot-10, 179-pound forward in his second season with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.
“The biggest difference was how well we executed everything that we learned in our first year,” said Bordeleau. “We really bought into our identity and we wanted to impose our will on opponents. I thought our team did a good job.
“We made our skills more valuable; you can't just have soft skills. You need to have systems and then, the skills will come out. It really helped us, especially during the tournaments in Sweden and the Czech Republic. We really wanted to play that last one.”
One highlight from his Under-18 season was playing his future college team, the University of Michigan at Yost Ice Arena on Jan. 25.
“It was an awesome game,” said Bordeleau, who tallied three assists in the 4-1 win. “We played in front of a packed house. I thought we played well as a team. The fans made the game all that much more special. I look forward to playing in front of the fans next year. My family and friends were able to be at the game.
“I knew [former NTDP players] Beech [Johnny Beecher] and [Cam] York and we did a little chirping for fun. It was just such a fun game to be a part of.”
When it came time to picking a college, it was a little more challenging for Bordeleau. However, as he started to look at his options, Michigan stood out.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“Coming from Montreal, I wanted to make sure that I was open to everything,” he said. “I really didn't grow up wanting to go to college. When I visited Michigan, it had a great balance of everything I was looking for — the coaching staff, campus and hockey program. It was all about finding a balance for me. I know that I am going into a great situation at Michigan and I'm excited to get started.”
He also understands just how much it will help him when he sets foot on U-M’s campus in the fall since he will have already played college competition, including games against Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Minnesota.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“It will really help me,” said Bordeleau, who closed his NTDP career with 32 goals and 85 points in 103 games. “Any time you go up a level, it will take a couple of games to adjust and acclimate. As a player, it really helps us. It is a big plus for us especially as we get ready to go to college. We are so lucky that we are able to go out and play these games.”
Another highlight for Bordeleau was playing in the 2020 BioSteel All-American Game at USA Hockey Arena on Jan. 20. While playing for Team [Mike] Knuble, he posted one assist in the 6-1 win over Team [Scott] Gomez.
“It was great,” said Bordeleau. “They did a great job and made it fun for the players, and not too stressful. I was nervous for sure during the game. We knew that we still had to do our job and play our game.”
Coach Knuble, who also played for Michigan, had some important reminders for Bordeleau and the rest of the team.
“He gave us some reminders and that was good to hear,” said Bordeleau. “He told us that the scouts were watching us, but we had to remember to do the little things — whether it is back checking, or how we are on the bench. ‘Remember, even though it is the little things, we are under the scope and this is our time to shine.’ He was a great coach and it was fun to have him around.”
Even with his season cut short, Bordeleau is trying to make the most of his time in Plymouth when it comes to staying in shape.
“I'm trying to keep doing the things that I need to do,” he said. “It's hard to find ice right now but I've been shooting pucks and working out in my gym. I'm just trying to stay in shape and work on my shot until the rinks open up. I have been working so hard my entire life, not just for the NHL Draft, but also the opportunity to play in the NHL. It's all about my development, wanting to get better and get to the next level. The draft is just one step but there is still more work to do.”
As Bordeleau walks away from his NTDP experience, he leaves with many fabulous memories that he will remember forever.
“It's so hard to say as I have so many great memories,” he stated. “The win in Sweden was unbelievable [in the team’s first international tournament in November]. It was great to finally get that win. It seemed so long for us to get that win, especially after we finished last at the Under-17 World Challenge in our first season. Playing at Yost was really fun, too. I am leaving here with so many great memories.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.