Ben Brunette is using disappointment as motivation.
Last spring the defenceman watched as teammates Pacey Schlueting, Jesse Kirkby and Jack Stockfish were selected in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.
Ben Brunette was not.
“Yes I was disappointed I wasn't drafted,” admitted Brunette.
“I am using it as motivation to work hard so I have more to offer teams at the next level.”
This season, Brunette is attracting a lot of attention with his play with the major midget AAA Trappers. In 30 games, the minute munching defenceman has 17 goals and 34 assists for 51 points.
Trappers AAA major midget Head coach Guy Blanchard says he’s surprised his star defender was overlooked even in the later rounds of the draft.
“He has done a lot in the summer and he has come in with a little chip on his shoulder to say, ‘you made a mistake,’” noted Blanchard.
“He has been a real anchor for us on that blue line logging a lot of minutes in tournaments and regular season. He is just one of those guys that the tougher the game, the more important the game, the better he plays.”
Brunette trained hard in the off-season with his teammates and skated with former pro defenders in Craig Rivet and Russ Moyer.
“They gave me great advice about my game and what I can do to improve it,” said Brunette.
While Brunette’s offensive totals are attracting attention, the 5’11”, 160 pound defender also brings a unique physical element to his game.
“The part of his game that a lot of people do not see and he has been hiding it, is that he is a great open-ice hitter,” said Blanchard about Brunette, who has also played three regular season games as an affiliate for the Powassan Voodoos.
“He can play physical if you want him to but with the minutes he is lugging he is trying to conserve his energy a little bit more than some other players but when it comes time he can really come up with some big hits that can change the game,” added Blanchard.
“He just does all the little things well, there are still some parts of his game that need fine tuning but he certainly has the right formula to make the next move for sure.”
However, Brunette believes his emergence is not about what he has done as an individual. He believes the situation and great team he is playing with has played a huge part in his success this year.
“Playing with such talented teammates helps me play well and it allows me to try things I may not be able to try if I didn't trust them or if we didn't have such a strong team and great group of guys,” said Brunette who also credited coaches Guy Blanchard and Bill McMillan for helping him improve.
Brunette is focussing on the team first as the Trappers head to Peterborough this weekend to participate in their final tournament before the Great North Midget League playoffs begin in February.
Regardless how far the Trappers go this season, Blanchard is confident Brunette will be making the jump to Jr ‘A’ or Major Junior next fall.
“He has brought a lot of attention to himself and it is good for him and I am certain he is not going to have a difficult time finding a place to play if he continues on the right path,” said Blanchard.