The transition from junior hockey to the pro level hasn't necessarily been smooth sailing for Dallas Stars prospect forward Mavrik Bourque.
To say that the 20-year-old Quebecer had an eventful 2022 would probably be an understatement.
The former captain of the Shawinigan Cataractes first had to deal with a host of injuries which forced him to miss almost half of his team's games last season.
He then led the “Cats” to their first President's Cup in 53 years of history before seeing their journey come to an end in the semi-finals of the Memorial Cup on June 27, after a loss to the Ontario champions, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Back home, the dust settled, and so did the adrenaline.
“Right after the Memorial Cup, I got sick. I contracted sinusitis and I did not move from my couch for two weeks. Afterwards, people were telling me that maybe I should take a break, but as a competitor, I wanted to come to Stars camp ready. I had to find the balance between my training and not arriving too tired.
“Last year, I told myself that no matter what happened, I had my junior team waiting for me. This year, I didn't really know how to handle it. I had to mourn the junior and my season has not always been rosy either. In two months of training, I questioned myself a lot and I felt like I was not ready. »
Not at its best
On the physical level, the result was satisfactory. However, the short offseason and the rollercoaster of emotions he'd been through in recent months meant that Bourque didn't feel like he was showing up to an NHL camp looking his best. .
“The Stars told me that they were satisfied with my game. However, I know what I am capable of and I knew that I had not been at my best. I'm smart enough to know that it was kind of going around my business and I expected to be cut off. I took it the right way. »
Dallas' 2020 first-round pick therefore joined the Texas Stars of the American League.
“Since the start of the season, I have been able to train more and practice more. I feel better and better. »
In 10 games, he collected three points, including a goal.
« Would I like to score more? Yes it's sure. On the other hand, I play the right way. I'm improving from game to game and that's what's important if I ever want to play in the NHL. »
His progress is such that when speaking with Le Journal on Friday, Bourque had been reunited with veterans Tanner Kero and Riley Barber in the first line. Used in addition on the second wave of power play, he spends about 14 to 15 minutes on the ice per game.
A change from the 25 minutes he ate, game after game, in Shawinigan .
“Last year, with the ice time I had, if I didn't touch the puck on my first appearance, I knew it was going to come quickly. There, sometimes, we start the game and we take a penalty, so it takes longer before I get back on the ice. It's an adjustment, but that's how it is with the pros. If I get into the NHL, it's going to be the same. “
Confidence in his skills, Bourque however aims higher.
“What I want is to be the player who creates things on the ice, as I was at the junior level. »