Bourque Stepping Into Spotlight
By Jason Karnosky
If Milwaukee Admirals coach Lane Lambert was pressed to name the second half Most Valuable Player for his Western Conference leading club, surely Gabriel Bourque’s name would be one of the first that would come to mind.
In his past 26 games, Bourque has 10 goals and 19 points. More importantly for Milwaukee, Bourque’s increased production came when Lambert needed him the most, as three of his team’s top five scorers are either up with the Nashville Predators or out of the line up with an injury.
“(Bourque) has been arguably our best forward or one of our best forwards for the last two months,” Lambert said. “That’s a credit to him for sticking with the plan and the program right from day one when wasn’t getting as much ice time.”
Tracing Bourque success starts an early age. Bourque grew up in Rimouski, Quebec, which is home to one of the Canadian Hockey League’s best known junior teams—the Rimouski Oceanic. The Oceanic’s NHL alumni list includes such notables as Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards, skaters that inspired Nashville’s 2009 fifth-round draft pick to set lofty goals for the future.
“There’s been a lot of good players who have come out of there and played (for the Oceanic),” Bourque said. “Though I didn’t get a chance to play for them, all I summer I go home to train. It’s a lot of fun being there with all of the hockey history (in that community).”
However, making the jump from playing Canadian juniors to the American Hockey League proved difficult in the early going for Bourque. The first-year forward needed seven games to record his first goal (at Chicago on October 24), and managed just six points in his first two months with Milwaukee.
“I’ve just tried to work hard all season,” Bourque said. “But I never stopped having confidence in myself that I could produce.”
Despite his slow start, Bourque’s Admirals teammates saw a lot of potential in the rookie forward.
“(Bourque) was a great player at the start of the season,” Milwaukee captain Brett Palin said. “Now he’s showing that can be even better.”