CK Prospect Report: Blenheim Blades

Austin Bentley - Blenheim Blades

Austin Bentley of the Blenheim Blades, is a 1997 player to watch in the GLJCHL this season – Photo by Kelsey Vermeersch/

The Chatham-Kent Prospect Report will look at players from local hockey programs, after viewings this season. Players to be reviewed must be 1997 birth year or younger.

This report is from an initial viewing of the Blenheim Blades vs. Lakeshore Canadiens, Sunday, September 14. We will add to these reports throughout the season as these young players progress.

Austin Bentley – 1997 – Chatham – Bentley is a heads up player, who utilizes his on-ice vision effectively. In possession, Bentley controls the pace, and is able to find his teammates in the openings. Bentley is an excellent shooter with a quick release and power to his shot, making him dangerous from the circles in. On the defensive side, Bentley needs to remain composed and in control in his pursuit, and not bite as quickly on his opposition’s move. Possessing excellent size, at six-foot-one and more than 200lbs, Bentley can be a pest to opponents, but could benefit from finishing more checks on the forecheck. Bentley will be counted on to, and should produce significant offense for the Blades, especially if he continues to earn powerplay time, as he did Sunday. He shows the potential to advance next year to the Junior B level, and it wouldn’t surprise if he receives a midseason call up to the Chatham Maroons.

Justin Baker – 1997 – Chatham – Playing limited minutes, Baker was the most effective of the 1997 born players in Blenheim’s opening night lineup. Positionally sound, and defensively responsible, Baker was persistent on the back check, assuring he was never a defensive liability while on the ice. At times, Baker showed flashes of offensive potential, including a late game rush where he showcased his straightaway speed, outracing a Lakeshore defender to earn a solid scoring chance. Baker finished his checks when the opportunity presented itself, but could be stronger on his stick while in possession, and would benefit from adding more mass to his frame. With continued efforts, similar to what he demonstrated on opening night, the Blenheim Blades will be forced to give him additional opportunities, moving him up their lineup, and into other roles, most fittingly as a penalty killer.

Nolan Vandenboorn – 1997 – Ridgetown – Vandenboorn possesses good size, standing six-foot and weighing in at 188lbs. He has experience playing against Junior aged players in a winning environment, suiting up for the OMHA champion Ridgetown-Blenheim Chiefs Juvenile team last year, which showed in his opening game composure. With the puck on his stick, Vandenboorn made astute, crisp passes. Vandenboorn however, needs to engage more. Without the puck he was often away from his man, and needs to backcheck with more persistence. His biggest asset, his size, was neutralized as he gave up on too many plays in pursuit, allowing his opposition to advance without contest. Full of tools, Vandenboorn looks like a player who will gain the confidence he needs to assert himself on the ice, and to engage in more competitive play as the season progresses.

Blair Derynck – 1998 – Chatham – No viewing. Derynck was out of the lineup on opening night. Last season with the Chatham-Kent Cyclones Minor Midget ‘AAA’ team, Derynck was described as a two-way forward with shutdown capabilities, and the potential to contribute offensively. He was passed over in the OHL draft, but is still considered one of the top 1998 prospects in the area.

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