During Jaeden Mercier’s hockey career, the Flin Flon Bomber rookie has proven he can step up his game.
Each season for the past few years, the Saskatoon product has moved up a level. In 2016-2017, Mercier played bantam AA hockey. The next season, he competed at the midget AA level and, last season, he was the second-leading scorer for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. This winter, Mercier has stepped up to the junior A level and is contributing as a 17-year-old.
“I think the thing that has allowed me to move up levels consistently is hard work as well as great support and advice from my coaches and parents,” he said.
Last week, Mercier and the Bombers won one game and earned a point in an overtime loss. In La Ronge Dec. 6, the squad rallied from deficits of 3-1 in the first period and 5-3 in the third to tie things up on an Easton Haygarth goal late in regulation. Daylon Mannon scored the OT winner to propel the Ice Wolves to a 6-5 win.
The next night, at home, defenceman Dane Hirst caused plush toys to rain onto the ice as he scored the Bombers’ first goal on teddy bear toss night. The evening featured the hosts waging a tough battle with the Nipawin Hawks, who rallied back three times before the Bombers scored twice in the third, including an empty net marker, to take a 5-3 victory.
“I thought we played hard all weekend and that we showed that we are a determined team,” Bombers head coach and general manager Mike Reagan said. “Our ability to come from behind has been great all year, so we believe we can and will come back.
“We gave up three leads (Saturday) night, which I wasn’t happy about, so the focus was to get the lead back and protect it.”
The Bombers have been rolling. The squad is 8-1-1-0 in its last 10. With a 21-6-4-0 record as of Sunday, Flin Flon had 46 points to sit second in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League standings behind Battlefords, which was 26-4-2-0 for 54 points.
“I think we have a focused group right now that is motivated to get to first place,” Reagan said. “We can see Battlefords’ tail lights and we want to catch them.”
The 5-foot-11, 160-pound Mercier has 10 points this season, including three goals. Mercier had a goal and two assists for three points against Notre Dame Nov. 15. Reagan described Mercier as “very skilled and slippery. Good hockey IQ and creative.”
“He’s going to be very good,” Reagan said. “He will run our powerplay in the future. He continues to get better each and every day.”
This past fall, Mercier attended camp with his hometown Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. He said that experienced “allowed me to get a better understanding of the level and lifestyle of a junior hockey player.”
Playing with the Bombers has certainly been a step up for him from the midget AAA level. He said the biggest adjustments were the speed of the game and the size of the players. Mercier has had to make adjustments off the ice, moving to a new community and living away from home for the first time. He billets with the McLean family. Mercier said he loves the family and they have been great to him.
“The thing that I have enjoyed most about being a Bomber would have to be how welcoming and passionate the Flin Flon community is, as well as the guys on the team.”