The hopes of hockey fans across Eeyou Istchee will be with a young hockey player from Mistissini later this spring, when the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League holds its annual entry draft at Quebec City’s Centre Videotron.
Fresh off a spectacular debut with the Midget AAA Amos Forestiers, Israel Mianscum has emerged as a strong candidate to be among the first to have their name called at this year’s draft, setting the stage for the 15-year-old to follow in the footsteps of other Cree players to make their mark on the Major Junior Hockey scene, including Deverick Ottereyes, Adam Cheezo and Brett Hester.
Listed at 6 feet and 194 pounds, Mianscum is already an imposing presence on the ice, an element which played an important role in his rise to second in league scoring in his first campaign with the Forestiers, potting a team-leading 21 goals and adding 14 assists in 36 games.
Forestiers coach Guillaume Bisaillon holds high expectations for the hockey future of his young scoring star.
“You don’t need to push him,” explained Bisaillon, who is coming off his first season as Forestiers bench boss. “He is always the first player on the ice and stays out there as long as possible, and has the tools and the passion to make a living with hockey.”
Mianscum caught the attention of the Forestiers after posting impressive numbers in Midget Espoir action with the Rouyn-Noranda Citadelles last season, when he led the league with an eye-popping 29 goals and 27 assists in just 29 games. In addition, Mianscum has not been afraid of the rough stuff, incurring 32 penalty minutes with the Citadelles, a number that ballooned to 57 penalty minutes in what many expect to be his lone season in Amos.
However, Mianscum’s debut with Amos was not without its setbacks. The young sniper struggled to adjust to the high pace of midget hockey, and was also hobbled by a lower body injury that sidelined him for two weeks.
“[Midget AAA] is obviously a higher level because players are faster and more talented, but there is a lot of potential,” said the Mistissini youngster.
“After the injury, I knew I had to work harder on my return to the game and get in shape since I had to be at rest and do nothing.”
But Mianscum proved to be up to the challenge, compiling multiple lengthy goal-scoring streaks over the past season, and also earning QMAAA Player of the Week honours back in late November after racking up four goals and an assist, including the game-winning markers in victories over the Lac St-Louis Lions and the Laval-Montreal Rousseau Royal.
So what does the future hold for Mianscum, and what are the chances of him becoming the next Cree player to don a Val-d’Or Foreurs jersey?
With just five games remaining on the QMJHL regular season schedule, the Foreurs have already clinched a playoff spot but could enter the postseason sporting the worst record of any qualifying team.
While that does little to lift the spirits of Foreurs fans who have watched the club make early playoff exits in each of the past three years, and struggle through the current campaign with no Cree players on the roster, it may also leave Val-d’Or well positioned to snatch up Mianscum at June’s QMJHL Draft.
While Mianscum will be happy to make his breakthrough with any QMJHL team, joining the Foreurs would suit him just fine.
“It would be a good scenario if that happens. However, there is still a long way to get there and I have to keep working hard.”