Celtic sniper

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John Browne
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Chris Blackwood leads St. John’s junior league with 19 goals in 17 games

Chris Blackwood is not sure why he’s having so much success in the Penney Kia St. John’s Junior Hockey League this season, but he’s sure enjoying it.
The BK Services Celtics forward has scored 19 goals in 17 games so far this year for a team that’s near the bottom of the standings, and with fewer goals scored than all but one of the league’s other seven teams.

BK Services Celtics forward Chris Blackwood got off to a slow start this season, scoring just once in his first four St. John’s Junior Hockey League games. The right-winger has scored 18 goals in the 13 games since, giving him the outright league lead heading into play this weekend. The Celtics played the Southern Shore C&W Offshore Breakers Friday night at the Southern Shore Arena, however results were unavailable before the Telegram’s press deadline.

Blackwood can’t recall how many goals he had last season, but he admits he’s on a much more productive run after a bit of a slow start.

Blackwood, who is in his third year of junior league play, simply puts down his fast start to being, “another year older, I guess.”

Asked to elaborate just a little, he added, “Accurate shot I guess, and a couple of linemates who feed me in the slot.”

His new linemates this season are left wing Chris Amminson rookie centre Curtis Kavanagh.

“I’m a little bit stronger in front of the net,” Blackwood said about where he scores most of his goals.

“I’m pretty much in the right place at the right time.”

He laughs when asked if he can keep up his current pace.

“Yeah, hope so. I plan to.”

The Marine Institute student played his final two years of high school hockey in New Brunswick where he feels that experience really helped his development.

While attending Rothesay Netherwood School, the hockey team practised daily when it wasn’t entered in tournament play, so Blackwood saw plenty of ice time.

He was recruited to Rothesay by coach Jim Midgley, who also happened to be the head coach for Team Atlantic U17s at a camp which Blackwood attended some years ago.

He got high marks from his Rothesay coach during his time at the prep school.

“A gifted, natural scorer with a great shot,” is the way Midgley described Blackwood’s skill, adding that he possessed great leadership skills at the school and within the team as well.

The St. John’s native, who lives in Portugal Cove-St Philip’s, probably won’t be available to play next year as he might be on a work term outside the province.

Despite Blackwood’s individual success, the Celtics are seventh in the eight-team league with a 3-13-1 record, just five points ahead of last place Trinity-Placentia I.J. Smith Flyers.

“We’ve got a lot of new guys this year, so we’ve been slow off the start, but we are starting to come together,” Blackwood said, adding that the team is better than its record indicates.

Celtics’ coach Jeff Hurley isn’t surprised at Blackwood’s success, and he says it’s because of his work ethic.

“He gives 110 per cent,” said Hurley, who is in his first season at the helm of the Celtics, “and he does all the little things real well, too.

“He’s got a nose for the net, for sure. The puck seems to follow him. He’s a goal scorer, but he doesn’t mind blocking shots, either,” Hurley said.

Hurley also pointed out that Blackwood actually started out slowly this season. He had only one goal after his first four games before rattling off 18 goals in his next 13 games.

But can he possibly keep up his current scoring pace?

“I hope so, but I don’t want to jinx him,” Hurley said with a laugh.

However, Hurley said he wouldn’t be surprised if the other teams paid a lot more attention to Blackwood the rest of the season.

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Celtics, Marine Institute, Rothesay Netherwood School Team Atlantic U17s

Geographic location: Rothesay, New Brunswick, Portugal Cove-St Philip

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