Heading into the season, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada were missing their top two defencemen from the previous season, Xavier Ouellet and Samuel Carrier. They had to look for a way to replace Carrier’s 49 points and captain Ouellet’s 41.
Enter Daniel Walcott.
The 19-year-old QMJHL newcomer is having an effect on both ends of the ice for the Armada. He came seemingly from nowhere, having spent last season with Lindenwood University, near St. Louis. They play in the ACHA, a college circuit that is not affiliated with the NCAA.
“We got a phone call from a friend who was coaching him in the United States,” Armada head coach and general manager Jean-François Houle says. “The kid is from Montreal and he wanted to come home to Montreal to play. He fell through the cracks a bit; kind of a late bloomer.”
Walcott’s seven points in 11 games is enough to lead the Armada blueliners in scoring. The Armada have been the CHL’s best team so far this season, with a 10-0-1-0 record, including a 10-game winning streak. Walcott’s two-way game has been a noted reason for the streak.
“He’s been great for us,” Houle continued. “He’s been great defensively and he’s been great offensively. He replaced some big bodies that we lost last year on defence and he’s taking a lot of minutes.”
Walcott’s story doesn’t begin there. A child of a recent separation at 14, he stopped playing organized hockey in pee wee, opting instead to play at his high school so it would be cheaper on his parents. After five years with his high school team, He joined his father in Chicago, where he spent his summers as a kid, to play high school hockey there. After one year there, Lindenwood University offered him a place on their team, and he jumped at the chance.
“I got looked at by Lindenwood University,” Walcott said. “They offered me a spot. I decided to take it because it’s university [hockey] and I always wanted to play there. Unfortunately, it’s not high quality. It’s not NCAA hockey, it was just club hockey.”
He had 13 points in 33 games for Lindenwood last season.
“My assistant coach and J-F Houle were in contact, and my name came up. They invited me to camp. I decided to come here because I live at home, basically. It was one of the major keys to the decision. Also, I wanted to get seen by scouts and here is a much bigger opportunity for that.”
“We invited him to our camp and gave him a chance,” Houle said. “He sure surprised everybody.”
At Lindenwood, Walcott was the youngest player in the ACHA. The leagueprofiles much like Canadian Interuniversity Sport with most players ranging from 21 to 25 years old. Walcott said that the age difference really helped his game grow.
“It’s helped me out on the physical level,” Walcott said. “It was playing with men, basically. I was the youngest guy in the league.
“Also, living on my own and getting independent was an experience of a lifetime. It helped me out and made me become a better hockey player and grow a lot.”
Walcott’s been using his experience in the ACHA with older players to help out the Armada’s younger players.
“There’s young defencemen on our team and sometimes, they look for advice,” he said. “I’m always open to give advice. I like to make sure everyone’s comfortable. Sure, I’m a rookie, but with my experiences, I can also give them some help.”