Flashback to September 18, 2021. The Blackfalds Bulldogs are on the road playing the second game in their inaugural campaign against the Olds Grizzlys, following a tough shutout loss in Brooks the night before. On the power-play early in the game (1:13), and with his team in need of a spark, rookie-forward Jayden Joly finds the puck on his stick and proceeds to leave it in the back of the Grizzlys net, scoring his first-career goal in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), while also becoming the first Bulldogs player to score a regular season goal in franchise history.
Not a bad way to kick off your junior career.
Joly clearly ‘understood the assignment’ in regards to making a good first impression with his new team, and he admits he has also been impressed with his experience playing in his first season as a member of the Bulldogs.
“It’s been awesome. The biggest thing is the atmosphere. We’re surrounded by amazing people, it’s been a great experience so far,” Joly expressed.
Joly has been actively involved in the local community this season and has embraced one elemental aspect of being a junior hockey player: giving back. He noted the importance of acknowledging the fans, as well as the local businesses that support the team so passionately. Joly has been volunteering his time, along with his teammates, helping support various local initiatives this season.
“The community is great, they come out and support us and we give back by volunteering at the food shelters, and it’s been a great experience all around. I help out a lot at the food bank and I’ve helped wrap presents for Christmas, and I know some of the guys go to the schools in the morning and help out with that, so it’s been good.”
Joly describes himself as a 200-foot forward who can play in the offensive and defensive zones and a player who brings physicality and offensive prowess on the ice. He has embraced the challenges inherent with transitioning to the AJHL, using them as motivation to get bigger, stronger and faster.
“I think the biggest thing, playing here at a young age, I’m playing against guys 3-4 years older than me, and that age gap, I think it definitely teaches me a lot about how the pro’s are going to feel, just how much bigger and stronger they are, so that’s been the biggest thing for me.”
As a 17-year-old, Joly recently announced his commitment to Western Michigan (NCAA Div.1) which he admits was a big relief, helping him now focus on improving his overall game in the coming years. After going through the process of committing to an NCAA program, he’s grateful for what the accomplishment means for both himself and his family.
“I think it’s huge for my family and me, and it’s just a huge weight off the back, to help me keep going and improve,” Joly explains. “The commitment process, you find a team and they talk to you for a couple weeks, maybe months, and they see how you improve and how you fit their (style) of play and for me I was lucky enough to be that for Western Michigan.”
Joly is admittedly ambitious when it comes to his future hockey goals, but he says his immediate focus is to continue to grow and develop his game next season with the Bulldogs, before eventually moving on to the NCAA in a few years.
“Obviously, in 2-3 years I want to be playing at Western Michigan, that’s a goal, and then hopefully that carries on to the NHL, if it all works out well.”
Joly was named the Bulldogs ‘Rookie of the Year’ after finishing the season with 29 points (11G,18A) in 59 regular season games for the Bulldogs. After an impressive first campaign for Joly, it appears that whether he’s setting big goals, or scoring them… the ‘sky’s the limit’ for the product of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.
Article by Bryan Wilson.