It's been a special season for Cariboo Cougar forward Liam Blackburn. Quickly establishing himself as an elite player in the BCMML, the 16-year old from Prince George has rewritten the club's record book and there's still three weeks left in the regular season.
On the team's recent road trip to Nelson, Blackburn set a new team record for assists in a single season passing Seb Lloyd's previous mark of 37. Then Saturday he tied Brett Bulmer's single season points mark of 63 set back in 2008-09 setting himself up for a memorable day Sunday against the Okanagan Rockets. It didn't take long for the skilled centreman to set a new milestone as he opened scoring just 35 seconds into the first period.
"Before the game I was trying to visualize anything I could to get me going and I came out really strong and first shift in there got a good bounce, Penner shot it down and put it in the net right off the start."
As one of the Cougars final cuts last season, Blackburn played his first year of midget with the Tier 1 Cougars winning a provincial championship. As the team's leading scorer, Blackburn played three games with the Cougars as an affiliate callup and never looked out of place. It was a team he knew he belonged with the next year.
"The Cariboo Cougars have really pushed me to work my hardest, defensively my game's gotten a lot stronger through (head coach Trevor) Sprague and Bryan they've been teaching me a lot more on defense first. I've been getting a lot stronger on the puck in the corners and that's helping me at the next level a lot."
With 26 goals this season, Blackburn is also creeping up on another team mark set by Luke Gordon in 2010-11 with 29 goals.
He's not the biggest or flashiest, but Blackburn has excelled at every level of hockey he has played and his hard work and determination has not gone unnoticed. This season he has played three games as an affiliate with the BCHL's Prince George Spruce Kings for whom he scored his first Junior A goal last week followed by his first assist the following night. In November Blackburn was added to the WHL's Victoria Royals list of protected players as the 5'10" 155 pound forward hopes to crack the Western Hockey League next season.
The accomplishments he has achieved so far this year put Blackburn in an exclusive club of former Cariboo Cougars who have gone onto the WHL and beyond. The precedent has been set and he intends to do whatever he can to make it as far as possible.
"It's a real privilege to see where they've gotten now. It gives me a little bit of hope that I can get there too. The hard work just keeps coming and the harder I work the further I can get in hockey."
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