WHL Next Generation is a 22-part series highlighting a handful of the future stars of the Western Hockey League. From first-round bantam draft picks to later-blooming selections, get to know the names of players set to establish themselves as the newest crop of exciting talent to grace the WHL. From August 1 through August 31, get the inside scoop on the incoming rookie class of 2019-20.
Team: Tri-City Americans
Weight: 220 pounds
Draft: TC (2018) Round: 1 (#14)
For Marc Lajoie, there’s always room for improvement in his game. Taking his skills, skating, physicality and strength up to the next level is a continuous goal Lajoie strives towards whenever he’s on the ice, in the gym and even in the ring.
While there are many benefits that Lajoie see from his boxing training that translates to his performance on the ice, the main payoff is from the cardio facet of his training.
“I throw boxing into my training during the off-season about two times a week because I really like the cardio aspect of it,” Lajoie said. “I’ve also been working out five times a week and skating twice a week to get ready for next season.”As part of the preparation for what Lajoie hopes is a full campaign with the Tri-City Americans, he has been reflecting on his 2018-19 season with the Canadian Sports School Hockey League’s (CSSHL) Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep (NAX). Not only did Lajoie find personal success, but also team success with many of the other top players in his age group.
Finishing as NAX’s defensive-scoring leader, Lajoie collected 36 points (15G-21A) in 35 games. His efforts both on the blue line and offensively assisted NAX to the CSSHL Midget Prep Division Championship where they captured the league title.
“It was definitely a good experience last year,” Lajoie said. “We won the league and I got to play with some of the top players around Western Canada, which was amazing.”While it was a successful season for Lajoie, it didn’t come without challenges and opportunities for growth.
“Playing against older guys really challenged me and prepared me for the difference in physicality that I can expect next year [in the WHL] so that’s what I’m ready for now,” the St. Albert product said.Reflecting on his three 2019 WHL Playoff games with the Americans also gave him the opportunity to see where he can take his game to the next level.
“It was definitely a lot faster than what I was used to,” Lajoie said. “When I was in those couple of playoff games with Tri-City, it was really eye-opening as to how much faster the game is and really how much faster I have to be.”
Heading into Tri-City’s camp this year provides Lajoie with a chance to show the Americans where his game has improved since last training camp and what his goals will be for the upcoming season.
“Hopefully I can show them how much stronger and faster I’ve gotten,” Lajoie said. “The goal is to make the team, so I’m going to do my best to make it happen.”