Janesville Jets' Lemirande to decide his future
JANESVILLE Conor Lemirande of Janesville is a big man facing big decisions.
Lemirande just finished his second season with the Janesville Jets, but his future in hockey is uncertain.
Options for Lemirande, who turns 20 in October, include a Division I college scholarship, a return to the Jets or a step up to the United States Hockey League.
"I have no idea, to be honest," said Lemirande, who began the season in September on a National Hockey League player watch list. "I'm open to one of those things. My dream is to play college hockey, but I can come back to the Jets or move up."
Lemirande is letting the process play out.
"I don't want to jump the gun," Lemirande. "I have to sit back and remind myself to be patient."
Lemirande is a 6-foot-5, 225-pound man who can skate, which makes him a coveted player.
Jets coach Joe Dibble said Lemirande has to work on using his size to his advantage.
"He has to accept the fact of what body type he has," Dibble said. "He is made for power forward, and that's the role he will have in hockey."
Lemirande learned to accept that his size makes him a target.
"I've always been a bigger player on the ice," Lemirande said. "If you are the biggest guy out there, they want to take you down."
While teams make him an object of their aggression, it opens up the game for his team, Lemirande said.
"The intimidation makes room to create more space," Lemirande said. "You receive more respect when things open up on the ice."
Lemirande, who was the Jets' captain, scored nine goals and had 12 assists for 21 points through 54 games this season. Overall, Lemirande has played in 110 games for the Jets, scoring 15 goals and adding 17 assists for 32 points.
Lemirande and teammates Alec Vanko, Todd Koritzinsky, Brock Kautz and Ruslan Pedan participated in the NAHL's top prospects tournament in February.
"Conor can lead by example," Dibble said. "He was our captain, and he had a strong work ethic."
Shepherding the Jets through an 11-day swing through Fairbanks and Kanai River, Alaska, was a challenge for Lemirande.
"It was definitely harder," Lemirande said. "The plane ride takes a lot out of you, plus the excitement of being in Alaska."
Jet lag was a factor in the long trip.
"The bigger thing was the time change," Lemirande said. "When it's 7 p.m. there, it's 10 when you play there and 12 when the game ends, and it's 1 a.m. when you leave. For the younger players, it was a curve ball. It was a grind."
Lemirande said playing two seasons for the Jets was a positive experience.
"It was a great time," Lemirande said. "Hopefully, the hard work will pay off."
Ken Veloskey is a sports writer for The Gazette.