Chris Roberts/Courtesy of lloydminstersource.com
Growing up, Lloydminster Bobcats leading scorer Dustin Lebrun was never one of the better players in his age group.
In his own words, the 20-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C. always played on the “not so good teams,” hoping one day to crack the highest level; he even remembers how he used to tell his parents he’d be playing high-level hockey some day.
“I always wanted to get to that good team,” said Lebrun following a relaxed practice Tuesday at the Civic Centre. “I used to watch Burnaby Bulldogs games, which was Junior A back in the day, and I’d always tell my parents one day I’ll be playing Junior A.”
Lebrun came through on that promise in the 2010-11 season, suiting up in 44 games for the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL. Following a mid-season trade last year, he split the season with the Centennials and the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the AJHL. An off-season trade led him to Lloydminster, where he was expected to provide veteran leadership to a young, rebuilding team.
“When I realized I was coming to Lloyd I was pretty happy, it was a good team last year,” said Lebrun. “I knew it was a rebuilding process this year, and I just wanted to help the team as best I could.”
Now, the avid Todd Bertuzzi fan is leading the Bobcats not only in the dressing room – he wears an ‘A’ – but on the stat sheet as well. With the recent departure of forward Matthew Marcinew, Lebrun assumed the team lead in scoring with 14 points in 24 games.
Though he had some success last year in Sherwood Park (eight points in 15 games), by no means did he expect to be atop the Bobcats leader board at this point in the 2012-13 campaign.
“I didn’t picture that at all,” he said with a smile, though adding he did expect to have an impact on this team.
Though it also isn’t likely that Lebrun expected to be heading the team’s most productive line, one that head coach Ryan Parent didn’t hesitate to call the team’s top line.
“Lebrun, Wark, and Lund, really, they have been our first line,” Parent said following last week’s loss to Sherwood Park. “Collectively, that line has been very good. Lund kinda offers a little toughness, a little grit on that line, and Wark and Lebrun just seem to pot pucks, so that’s a good thing when you can have a combination that’s clicking and those guys are definitely clicking.”
The trio are on the ice whenever the Bobcats need an offensive charge, and despite the lack of production recently, they continue to buzz around the net and work the cycle game, wreaking havoc for defenders. Following a win against Drayton Valley on Nov. 3, goaltender Chase Martin joked that he hardly ever sees the trio up close as they’re almost always working in the offensive end.
“I kinda think of ourselves as the Sedin line,” Lebrun said with a laugh, opting to give credit to both his linemates, anointing himself as the Alex Burrows type of the line.
“I know usually where Wark is and where he’s going to be, I’ll put it in the corner and he’ll be there, I’ll throw it in front of the net and he’ll usually be there,” Lebrun added.
“(They) can shoot the puck … and if I shoot the puck I know they’ll be in front of the net and hopefully I’ll pick up an assist there.”
Like many of the Bobcats, Lebrun has been shut out the past four games, but you wouldn’t know it watching him play. And if you peel back the calendar even farther, you’ll notice a stretch of six points in three games near the end of October, which is where he really began to elevate his play. It’s also about the time when the line of Lebrun, Wark and Lund came together.
“I feel pretty good … I’m just doing the little things right, I’m playing with a good bunch of guys, I love playing with them, they get me the puck, they work hard and it’s just a good line to play with, and I think that’s mostly how my success is coming because I’m on a very good line,” said the humble Lebrun.
While his parents were able to see him play in the BCHL, they have yet to make the trek to Lloydminster to see him play in what will be his last year of Junior A – yet, anyway.
“Not yet, but I hope they’ll maybe come in January,” he said.
Lebrun and the Bobcats played in Sherwood Park last night, but results were not available as of press time. They’ll hit the road to play Bonnyville tomorrow night and return home to host the Okotoks Oilers Saturday night at 7:30 at the Civic Centre. The Bobcats are 1-0-1 against the Oilers this season, winning one game in a shootout and losing one in overtime. Recently acquired backup goaltender Devin Green played six games for the Oilers this season, it will be interesting to see whether he gets the start.