Preface to A Long and Winding Road
A Can’t Miss Prospect
It was my first year with the QMJHL Central Scouting Agency and I remember traveling to Blainville-Boisbriand for the Gatorade Challenge. At that time I was also working for Rogers TV as a colour analyst covering the QMJHL. I was with Rogers in that capacity for about three years, but this was my first major scouting trip. I had joined the CSR at the mid-way point of the season. It was my first chance to see players from other provinces play. I knew that Rogers was going to cover the draft that year because it was in Saint John, New Brunswick.
I drilled down on all the players that we had listed in the first three rounds to potentially enhance the coverage of the draft. Obviously, Bailey Peach was one player that was ranked very high. He was a can’t miss prospect really. It’s always great to look back on old scouting reports, but this what I wrote on Peach from that weekend.
Bailey Peach: “Potentially the best release and hands in tight in the draft, explosive player, dynamic scoring winger tremendous speed to the outside, isn’t afraid to go to dirty areas, great compete level and relentless, has to work on defensive side of his game, but is accountable and responsible, great one on one skills.”
Projection: Can be a Top 6 fwd on any team next year and can probably score at least 15 goals in the right situation. Bright future ahead for this player needs to get stronger to ensure he wins puck battles, great work ethic.”
Can’t miss prospect is one of those scouting labels that are often times unfair.
Unfortunately, things didn’t workout the way a lot of people had thought or projected they would for Peach in the QMJHL.
Can’t miss prospects sometimes miss, but that’s what makes Bailey Peach’s current performance an dominance in the WHL so special. In his final year of junior hockey, he’s living up to those lofty expectations, but all of that doesn’t really matter, because the highly skilled scoring winger has rediscovered his confidence, passion and love for the game of hockey.
A Long and Winding Road
It’s been a long and winding road for Falmouth, Nova Scotia’s Bailey Peach.
From Sherbrooke to Charlottetown, to Victoria, British Columbia, Peach’s journey in the game has literally taken him from to coast to coast, not by design, but by necessity.
DNA, Resiliency and the Foundation
Every player has a unique set of hockey playing DNA and skill foundation. Bailey Peach’s foundation is incredibly rare. It’s the intangibles that have led to his current success.
“Bailey’s resiliency and character has been what’s enabled him to achieve what he is currently achieving,” said longtime Head Coach of Acadia Axemen Darren Burns.
Other than his family Darren Burns knows Bailey Peach better than any one else. Burns coached Peach from the grassroots up.
“His current success is not a surprise,” stressed Burns.
“He is an outstanding player, who is grounded as a person and as a player has a great hockey mind and his skill level is through the roof.”
“In my opinion Bailey’s off ice and on ice haven’t changed since he’s been a young kid.”
Bailey Peach has already committed to the Axemen for next season.
“We are extremely excited to have Bailey committed here for next season,” Burns said proudly.
“We believe he will bring us a high end injection of offence and he is a player who is continuing to get better.”
“Watching how Bailey has handled his career and the season he is having is very exciting for us. At the U Sport level, you need motivated people. For a player like Bailey a couple of years of being a go to player and continuing to work on his game will provide him the opportunity to reach his goal as a professional hockey player.”
“Not every path is the same and this is an excellent example for other kids,” said Burns.
The adversity that Peach has faced throughout his path has never defined him as a person.
“Bailey’s upbringing has probably been the biggest influence on his success,” Burns said.
“Whether he was the top player throughout minor hockey or battling through some adversity in junior, he’s been taught to work hard and not point fingers.”
“He’s always been a positive role model for teammates when things were going great, he’s been taught to work and not make excuses when things may not be going well for him. A big part of this comes from family influence and values. Its great to see him on the role he is having.”
Hockey was a way of life for the Peach family.
Trips to the rink were a family affair. It became clear from the very start that Bailey Peach was going places in the game. The dream to play at the highest level possible was shared, just like all the sacrifices.
You see that’s what makes the journey so unique and special.
The love of the sport and the love shared within the family unit is inseparable.
Mike and Andrea Peach have experienced all the highs and lows along the way. The game has an amazing way of connecting families. From the triumphs to the defeats, to the injuries and uncertainty, the one constant with the Peach’s was unconditional love.
The love, passion and support continues to pay dividends on and off the ice in Bailey’s life.
“We are very proud of how Bailey has handled all the situations,” said Andrea Peach, Bailey’s mother
“He has worked very hard to get to this point in his career and to see him having this success in Victoria is heart warming.”
Control what you can control takes on many different meanings when it comes to the game of hockey especially when you see your son confronted with adversity that’s out of his control.
“As a parent you need to be a great listener and a support system for them,” Peach said when asked about how difficult things get when they are out of their control.
“Being traded from Sherbrooke to the Islanders at Christmas of 2020, when they were making a run for the cup was exciting for all of us. We were excited to have him closer to home and be able to watch him play more,” she said.
“Things changed over that summer, Bailey’s attitude didn’t. He continued to focus on working hard.”
Hockey is a business and the Peach’s learned that a long time ago.
“The CHL is a business, however knowing that still doesn’t make it any easier when trades happen.”
The writing was on the wall with the Islanders pursuit of another overager during the off season.
“Bailey told us his goal was to find a spot on a CHL team to finish his overage year in the league. He was very determined to make that happen using all his resources.”
Peach had to do the right thing, the toughest thing to do, report to camp knowing his job was in jeopardy.
“Bailey handled his return back to the Islanders training camp like a pro.”
Like any family, especially those in the game hockey the Peach’s turned to a trusted ally and mentor for support and guidance during that time.
“Darren Burns has always been a very supportive sounding block for Bailey during his hockey career. He was Bailey’s coach in minor hockey, as a young player there were many years of attending the Axemen summer skills camps, to calling and checking on him during his junior career.”
“Darren and his staff at Acadia offered him a spot to train with his team while he was in limbo between Charlottetown and being placed on waivers. We are forever grateful for his support,” stressed Peach.
Both Andrea and Mike were elated when Burns recruited their son for the Axemen program.
“It’s important to us for Bailey get his education and to have this offer from Acadia is a perfect fit for him. When you can still play the game you love and get your degree it’s a privilege.”
“A bonus for us is we will get to watch him play more,” said Peach.
The Last Ride
You would be hard pressed to find prouder parents than the Peach’s. The success their son is having this season is the ultimate reward given all the adversity the family had faced. Nevertheless, the values they instilled in their son from the moment they laced up his skates can be witnessed every time #29 for the Victoria Royals steps on the ice.
It’s the last ride for Bailey Peach and the CHL.
It’s been a long and winding road for Peach, but all roads have led to Victoria, no regrets, no looking back, it might be his last ride, but he’s going to embrace and enjoy every minute of it.
“When the Islanders acquired another overager in the summer of 2021 I kind of figured I would need to find another place to play,” confessed Peach who was recently named Player of the Month in the WHL.
“I continued to train hard during the summer and returned to the Islanders training camp. While waiting to be placed on waivers Darren Burns from Acadia offered me a spot to train with his University team. I spent a couple weeks at Acadia going to class and practicing with the Axemen.”
That experience was a game changer for Peach.
“Burnsy is one person that has always believed in me as a person and a player and I can’t thank him enough for that,” Peach said proudly.
The hunt was on for Peach and his team of advisors.
“I spent sometime looking at other teams rosters for overage spots. Burnsy and my advisors from CAA Andre Ruel and Byron Ritchie made some calls in the OHL and the WHL. Once I cleared QMJHL waivers Victoria claimed me and I couldn’t have been happier.”
It’s been a match made in heaven for Peach and the Royals.
In 30 games this season, Peach has 20 goals and has added 24 assists while racking up 34 PIMs.
“As soon as the Royals claimed me I packed my bags and flew out the next day.”
Peach never lost sight of his dream, the support and encouragement of his family and friends means the world to the mature 20 year old.
“My family have been my rock.”
“They have been with me every step of the way and have supported every decision I have made,” said Peach.
There’s no question Bailey Peach is having the time of his life playing the game he loves. Nonetheless,
he’s eager to give back to the game and those that have supported him through it all.
“If my connections in the WHL can help Burnsy and his staff recruit future players for Acadia University mens hockey team I will do what I can to help them, like they have for me.”
Peach’s time in the QMJHL might seem like ancient history now, but it has undoubtedly left a lasting impression on him as a person and player.
“Moving away from home when I was 16 to Sherbrooke, Quebec was a big step for me. However, playing in the CHL has helped me tremendously with my time management. It’s an important part to being successful in life.”
“COVID shut down our run for the cup in Sherbrooke in March of 2020. Then during the holidays of the 2020/2021 season I was traded from the Sherbrooke Phoenix to the Charlottetown Islanders. During that season I spent 8.5 of 10 months in some sort of isolation due to COVID.”
“I realize I didn’t play my best hockey and I could have been better that season. COVID isn’t an excuse for my play but I have grown and learned from the situation and have moved on.”
“I have had a lot of great experiences, met a lot of fantastic players, staff and billets in each organization during my hockey journey.”
“I now have friends from the west to the east because of hockey. I’m not finished yet and I want to continue to thank everyone of them for their support,” Peach said.
Long and winding roads often lead people to their dreams, especially if they have what it takes.
The unconventional path in the game is often the most rewarding.
Bailey Peach’s skill, attitude persistence and perseverance is simply remarkable.