South Shore Breaker
Poised for a breakthrough
Lunenburg’s Chisholm eyes bigger role in second QMJHL season
Will Chisholm is determined to take the next step in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Going into his second QMJHL season, the 19-yearold centre from Lunenburg believes he’s physically and mentally ready for an expanded role with the Gatineau Olympiques.
Chisholm cracked the Gatineau roster a year ago as a walk-on from the junior A South Shore Lumberjacks of the Maritime Hockey League.
Now, with one Q season tucked away in his hockey bag, his confidence is that much higher.
“Oh, for sure,” Chisholm said before the Olympiques opened their main training camp Aug. 22. “I don’t have near as many nerves this year compared to last year. I feel much more confident going in this year.
“I think I’m much more ready. I feel a lot stronger, too, which is definitely good. But even just going back knowing what I’m getting into, because last year going there I didn’t know anyone. It was pretty scary, the first time away from home.
“But this year, it’s a comfortable environment now. I’m pretty excited to get back to Gatineau.”
With limited ice time, Chisholm scored a goal and two assists in 49 games last season. He still supplied the Olympiques with depth at centre and responsible play in all zones.
“Last year was definitely tough, because we had quite a few guys on the roster and I was on the bottom of it,” said Chisholm, a 2021 graduate of Park View high school in Bridgewater.
“Coming in this year, we’re going to have a good team again, but my goal would be definitely to have a role and make a difference in every game and get to see the ice every night, instead of sometimes sitting in the stands or more so on the bench. Because it’s not easy, but it’s part of the game when you’re a rookie.”
Chisholm stepped up to major junior after making the transition from junior A with his native South Shore franchise.
“I would say the speed of the game, for sure,” he said of the biggest difference at
the Q level. “The MHL is a good league, but the Q is just a whole different game. It’s such a fast game. That definitely caught me off guard a bit at the start, so I’m feeling better knowing that I know how the league is now and how to come into it.
“I’ve put on a bit of weight this summer, so I feel like I can definitely bring a lot more physicality this year than I did last year, because I know I lacked that a lot. (I’ll provide) just a grinder style of hockey and get some energy for more skilled players on the top lines.”
Chisholm is five-foot-10 and a half and almost 190 pounds after gaining five to 10 pounds during the off-season.
“I try to keep below 190,” he said. “I definitely added a lot of muscle and cut off a bit of
other weight, which is good.”
This summer, Chisholm worked out with like-minded South Shore hockey prospects at Atlantic Sports Performance gym in Bridgewater. He did so early in the mornings before reporting to his job at the Lunenburg Tennis Club, where he’s the head instructor.
Chisholm skated in Halifax under the tutelage of power-skating specialist Jill Plandowski and also hit the ice weekly in Liverpool with the likes of his Bridgewater buddy Luke Woodworth of the QMJHL’S Drummondville Voltigeurs and Lunenburg defencemen Ryan Hopkins of the Penticton (B.C.) Vees and Walter Flower of the Saint Mary’s University Huskies.
Among other participants in those Liverpool on-ice sessions were former Yarmouth Mariners captain Matt Barron of the Ontario Tech University
Ridgebacks, along with Mariners prospects Sam Hope and Jared Pitman, both of the U18 major South Shore Mustangs.
“It’s a good group out there,” said Chisholm, who drove to Gatineau a few days before camp.
He’s among five Atlantic Canadian forwards returning to the Olympiques, including Zach Dean of Mount Pearl, N.L., Cole Cormier and Samuel Savoie of Dieppe, N.B., and Donovan Arsenault of Richmond, P.E.I.
Dean, an NHL first-round draft choice of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2021, resides with the same Gatineau billet as Chisholm.
“Living with Zach Dean helps a lot,” Chisholm said of his easing his adaptation to the Q.
Savoie was a third-round draft selection of the Chicago Blackhawks this summer.
Bridgewater’s Woodworth, 18, was ranked as an NHL draft prospect, but he didn’t hear his name called this July in Montreal. He begins his third QMJHL season with even greater resolve.
“Luke was a little disappointed, but I think (not being drafted) probably just pushed him even more to be better and to keep on working, because he knew he was on the edge,” Chisholm said.
“He knows if he has a good season this year that something will come to him. He’s looking very good out there. A lot stronger this year, for sure.”
When he’s not on the ice, Chisholm is in his element on the tennis court, instructing Lunenburg-area youth ages five to 15.
“I’m pretty lucky to have that job,” said the fourth-year instructor. “It pays well and it’s perfect hours, so you can’t ask for much more.
“It’s definitely not an easy job, especially when you have 12 kids to handle every class. But it’s fun and once the kids get to know you more and you earn respect from them, they start to listen to you more.”
“I think I’m much more ready. I feel a lot stronger, too, which is definitely good.”
Will Chisholm QMJHL player from Lunenburg