Damian Bourne reached the pinnacle of minor hockey last season when his Mississauga Rebels club defeated the highly favoured Toronto Marlboros in the OHL Cup.
The Mississauga Steelheads forward now has to make a transition to the major junior game, if he is to continue his wave of success.
Towering at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Bourne isn’t your prototypical rookie.
He is an excellent skater, especially for his size and has all the physical tools to dominate at this level. In the off-season, the Oakville native rounded out his game to adjust to the faster pace of the game.
“(I worked on) my speed and strength, because I knew coming into the season all the guys were going to be bigger,” Bourne said to the Toronto Observer.
“And that’s one thing I really need to work on-my foot speed- and I think I’ve improved significantly on that.”.
Playing for a Rebels team that included many of the top prospects in the province, the left winger was coached by Geoff Schomogyi, and credits him for the development of his career.
“He definitely prepared all the guys on our team extremely well with being disciplined on the ice, off the ice, coming to the game prepared all the time, looking professional.
“He was big on consistency and always working hard,” Bourne said of his former bench boss.
A member of a vaunted rookie class that is considered to be the best in years, the Steelheads forward has certainly not looked out of place.
Bourne notched two assists in a 5-3 win over the Sarnia Sting on Thursday night, and is a plus-3 on the year.
Breaking the mold of most rookies, Bourne’s commitment to defence belies his experience in the league.
Far from complacent, the forward has an inherent understanding of what it takes to do well at the major junior level.
“With our organization, we always work hard, we’re a hard working team and I believe we’ll do very well this season,” Bourne said.
Still, Bourne’s Rebel teammates are not out of mind, and the shared experiences he has had as a rookie in the OHL with his former minor hockey colleagues resonate with him.
“I talked to a couple of the guys; we actually had a rookie party with all the guys a couple weeks ago.
“Everybody’s doing great, we’re all making the same adjustments, we’re all experiencing the same things.”
Bourne has all the innate abilities to become a star in the OHL, and if he continues to work hard, it won’t be long before everyone catches on to him as a rising talent.