More confidence and a bigger role has led to Jacob Biensch to having nine points in three Kootenay International Junior Hockey League games.
Biensch joined the Chase Heat last season in December, teaming up with his brother Caleb. He started the 2019-20 season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, but was released after a week, then joined Swan Valley in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, but broke his ankle the first day and went home for nearly three months. Caleb talked his brother into coming to the KIJHL because it’s a competitive league.
“Compared to back home, it’s a strong league,” says Biensch. “It’s respected by a lot of players and it’s a good development league. The coach, Brad Fox is great. It just seemed like the right fit for me.”
Fox has taught Biensch so much on and off the ice.
“I don’t think I’ve met a guy that cares so much for you and the amount of work he puts in for this organization is ridiculous,” he says, who was selected as a Third Star the first week of the season.
What Biensch likes about the KIJHL so much is the Junior A mindset and being on the ice and in the gym everyday.
After recovering from the broken ankle and playing more of a grinders role last season, Biensch says his offensive outburst has to do with the amount of ice time he is getting, a different role and largely his teammates.
“I’m giving them the puck and they are scoring right now,” says Biensch, 19. “I have a lot more confidence this year with the puck. I’m an older guy and a veteran on the team and I think confidence is everything.”
Knowing the league better factors into his confidence. Whenever the KIJHL season restarts, he expects a lot of change, making the league tougher, which will translate to it being harder to produce. He has a larger focus though.
Biensch is hungry to help lead the Heat to a KIJHL Teck Cup championship.
“I feel like I just have so much sour taste from last year. Losing out in the first round, we had the group to win,” he says.
Biensch has experienced what it’s like to win a championship. As a 17-year-old affiliate, he helped the Wainwright Bisons win the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League title. Being affiliated with the Bisons exposed Biensch to junior hockey.
“I think it was a great stepping stone for me. I only got a few games in but being able to be a part of such a skilled and successful team was an honour,” he says. “Those guys didn’t lose much and that mindset of ‘winning is the only option’ really carried with me.”
Skating on an outdoor rink back home during the Christmas break, Biensch wants to be a two-way threat. He wants to be counted on to protect a lead, block shots. He wants the puck on his stick to get the big goal and set up plays to be a factor for the Heat.