By John DeCoste
Nicholas Blanchard is getting the chance to take the next step in his hockey career.
The Kentville native, Valley Midget Wildcats player and runaway NSMMHL scoring leader has been called up to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the team that drafted him in the fourth round of the 2012 QMJHL draft.
“Nick was called up for the weekend, and we’ve not been given an indication of when, or if, he may return,” Wildcats’ head coach Nick Greenough said Dec. 19.
The 16-year-old Blanchard suited up for Acadia-Bathurst Dec. 14 in Halifax – “his first game, in front of 8,000 fans” – and again Dec. 16 in Cape Breton.
“I was told they wanted to take a look at him,” Greenough said, but he feels with the QMJHL trade deadline right around the corner, the call-up will probably take the form of a more formal evaluation.
“We were told it was just for the weekend, but we’re viewing it as open-ended,” he said.
In any event, “we’re prepared to move on without him. That’s our job as a league, after all, to prepare players to move on to the next level.”
At the time of his call-up, Blanchard was leading the NSMMHL in goals with 32, assists with 31 and points with 63. The runner-up in points had 51; the runner-up in goals, 24.
“I’m really happy for Nick, both personally and on behalf of our program. He’s worked hard, and he’s leading our league in scoring by a lot. He deserves the chance,” Greenough said.
Blanchard was one of six Midget Wildcats chosen in the 2012 QMJHL draft. Two of the six - Zachary Moody of Margaretville and Gareth Nicholson of Kentville - cracked the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles roster and are currently playing for Cape Breton.
Greenough also confirmed that Hants County native Justin Dickinson, who had been playing Junior A in Miramichi, was called up last week by the Saint John SeaDogs, the team that drafted him, “for the remainder of the (QMJHL) season.”
Editor's note: Blanchard returned to the Wildcats' line up after two games with Acadie-Bathurst.