The Millbrook native, now known for his offensive play as much as the seventh letter of the alphabet, was just five-foot-five and 93 pounds. But he wanted to play.
He had a dedication to the details of the game, Bearcats bantam coach Lou Lanceleve recalls.
“He always did the little things right.”
He made the team that year, as a small 13-year-old kid, but didn’t score a goal all season. After 31 games, Blackmore had just three assists and two penalty minutes. He seemed ready for a breakout in his second season of bantam, but upped his production to just 10 points.
Last year, Blackmore was unable to crack the Weeks Major Midgets roster, so he played high school hockey instead. After notching 15 points in 17 games for the CEC Cougars, he made the jump to major midget this season with his sights set on impressing junior scouts.
Suddenly, the kid who didn’t score a goal for a full year of bantam was one of the elite 16-year-old scorers in the province.
“I wanted to develop myself and whoever will take me, will take me,” Blackmore said of his attitude at the start of the season. “I was just trying to do my best to make a name for myself.”
And he did. Early on, Blackmore was among the top scorers in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League. Opposing teams eventually took note, but his hot streak continued throughout most of the season. To date, he has 15 goals and 16 assists in 36 games – good for third in team scoring. He’s carved a niche for timely scoring, including a huge overtime winner against league-best Cole Harbour last Sunday.
His play was rewarded over the holiday break, when the Truro Bearcats signed him to a junior A affiliate card. He hasn’t had a chance to play with the big club yet, but just being signed was a much-appreciated vote of confidence, Blackmore said.
Where he was once a player who dwelled on the little things, he’s now a player who has benefitted from many little things building up.
“He’s stronger, more mature, he’s more game-prepared,” said Lanceleve, now an assistant coach with the Weeks team. “He’s a super kid. He’s got great parents who are involved at every step of the way. He’s in the gym all the time with his father. It’s a whole bunch of things that came together this season.”
Blackmore gave credit to the coaching staff for taking a chance on him this season, as well as to Lanceleve for giving him a shot as an undersized kid whose breakout performance was a couple years off.
“They’ve helped me a lot for just believing in me,” he said. “And just for (Lou) to pick me as a first year, it boosted my confidence right there.”
“I think the potential was always there,” Lanceleve said. “The skating and the skillset were always there. But in terms of production, yeah, it’s been a breakout season for sure.”