evan bouchard feature

Lessons on and off the ice

A top-10 pick in the NHL draft and U17 gold medallist, Evan Bouchard got a little help along the way from the Hockey Canada Skills Academy program

Jessica Gowans
August 1, 2018

Hockey Canada Skills Academies offer a unique opportunity for students to work on and grow their hockey skills as part of a school program, Evan Bouchard knows that better than most.

Before being drafted 10th overall by the Edmonton Oilers at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, before captaining the London Knights, Bouchard was honing his skills at the Hockey Canada Skills Academy at École secondaire Georges-P.-Vanier in Hamilton, Ont.

The HCSA program is one period during the school day, five days a week. Each week is split between on-ice skills training, off-ice sessions and classroom instruction.

Michel Séguin, an instructor and one of the program organizers, has seen first-hand the positive impact the HCSA has had on participants.

“For the students that are on the verge of abandoning school, what they like is knowing they’ll have an ice session,” he says. “A lot of our students find that it’s encouraging to come to school just knowing ‘Hey, I’m going on the ice, and earning a credit based on hockey.’ I think that aspect is fantastic for the students. It gets them to come to school.”

“It doesn’t feel like you’re in school when you’re out there on the ice having fun,” echoes Bouchard. “Sitting through classes is a lot easier because you know you’ll be able to get on the ice.”

Bouchard was part of the HCSA program from 2013 to 2015, his Grade 9 and Grade 10 years. He made the move to London in the fall of 2015 after the Knights made him the 17th pick in the OHL Priority Selection.

On the ice at the Sport Chek World Junior Showcase this week, Bouchard already owns a gold medal from the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and a Memorial Cup title with the Knights in 2016, along with an appearance in red and white with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team.

Séguin could see the potential in Bouchard, even at such a young age. “You could see it in Grade 7, before he was in the program, when he was just on our hockey team,” he says. “His shot was fantastic, I think he broke two or three panes of glass in our rink in Grade 9. I’ve never seen a shot like that on a young kid.”

Bouchard believes the HCSA program absolutely helped get him to where he is today. “It really helped me focus; helped me focus on my skills and working on the little things. It worked perfect for me because I had hockey games at night, so I knew if there were things to work on, I’d get to work on them on the ice in the morning at school.”

As one of the top skaters in the program, Séguin would often use him to demonstrate examples of basic skills to other students. His willingness to help along with his attitude and leadership skills stood out to Seguin just as much as his abilities on the ice.

“He was a really great student-athlete. Great at school, great on the ice and a great role model. Just a great kid overall.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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