There’s always ups and downs to any hockey season. A matter of fact you can almost always guarantee them to happen. Preston Lounsbury definitely experienced his fair share of adversity this year; one might say he made the best of it in his first season in the QMJHL.
The pride of Salisbury, New Brunswick took full advantage of the opportunity that he earned when the Cats were hit hard by the injury bug, but as they say, what comes around, goes around. Lounsbury sustained an upper body injury that kept him out for the postseason. There’s no question the Cats missed having his two-way presence in the line up.
Lounsbury’s versatility, character and compete level propelled him up the line up when the injuries started to mount for the Cats. His relentless effort, consistency, and commitment to playing the game the right way at both ends of the ice served him incredibly well.
Lounsbury’s confidence soared when he earned a top six role and never looked back. You see every young player needs to understand that opportunities are rarely given they are always earned.
In 58 games this season, the 18-year-old forward scored 11 goals and added 17 assists, which was good for 8th in team scoring and 18th overall in league scoring amongst rookies.
“It was the first time I was hit with that kind of adversity, I feel the people around me really helped me through it, and encouraged me and really gave me pointers on what I should do,” confessed Lounsbury.
“I took what I could take out of what happened and put that to good use and started training for the next season,” explained Lounsbury.
“When I came back from the first injury I was excited and ready to go.”
“Obviously, things don’t always go your way, you know with two injuries, we were hoping to get back by the end of playoffs, but it didn’t turn out that way,” confessed Lounsbury.
“You know I tried to stick with it and had the mindset that I was going to get back and that I was going to help the boys out, and if I was going to do that I was going to be in the best shape possible.”
When Lounsbury was in the lineup he certainly made an impact on not only the team but also NHL scouts.
“I mean it’s hard not to notice it,” Lounsbury said of the all the attention around NHL draft year and rankings.
“You know you have people reaching out and congratulating on what you have been achieving, but I mean it’s definitely not the end goal, it’s just the motivation to get to even want to get to the next level.”
“That’s the way I look at it, I’m proud of how far I’ve come and I’m grateful for the people that have helped me to get here, but at the same time it just makes me want to get to the next level even more.”
Lounsbury’s focus shifted quickly when he knew his year was finished and that his comeback bid had fallen short with the Cats losing in 5 games to the Halifax Mooseheads.
“Clearly that didn’t happen, so now I can just continue to work for the next season coming up and possibly an NHL camp hopefully,” confessed Lounsbury.
Lounsbury has flown under the radar his entire career. He’s quick to offer up advice for others experiencing that through their journey in the game.
“You don’t always have to get noticed right away.”
“If you’re playing the game the right way, people will find you, that’s what I’ve learned through it.”
“I was never looking for where I was going to be at the top, there were guys around me that were playing that kind of style, from a young age I was told to just go play your game and that’s how I always look at it even now, people tell me to play my game and it just takes care of itself.”
“I would also tell them to stick to the way they can play and be the player and person you are then eventually good things will happen along the way,” said Lounsbury.
What has Lounsbury learned about himself as a player and person on his path to the QMJHL?
“It’s almost like a job.”
“It’s like you’re playing the game for a living, and you have to be committed and dedicated, you need to have an open mind, and take in and adjust to situations at a high level.”
“You’re faced with a lot of adversity and faced with a lot at once at the start of the season coming into the league and just juggling that and being able to adjust is definitely something that will help through the way.”
“Our coaching staff and all of the people around me this season really helped with that, we had a great group this year and staff, that encouraged me and lead me on so if you can take that all in and put that all together you will settle into the league or earn a spot with in the league,” Lounsbury said.
How important is playing to your identity and being yourself and how close are the Wildcats to being a contending team?
“Being yourself is critical.”
“They select you to be a piece of the puzzle for the team, there’s always going to be different pieces to that puzzle, and you’re there for a reason, and they will tell you want they want from you, and whatever is needed basically.”
“In my eyes our team is looking pretty strong, I feel we have a young core, we definitely showed it this year playing the top teams in the league and coming out on top is probably something people didn’t expect,” said Lounsbury.
“I thought we came together really well, we proved a lot and turned a lot of heads, even in the first round of the playoffs we had people talking against us and expecting us to do what we did, it was a battle, we were hurting, but at the same time we found a way to persevere and push through and come out on top.”
As far as personal expectations, Lounsbury is driven to get better every day. History would show that’s exactly what he has done at each and every stop along the way. Ironically, that’s what growth and development is all about.
Lounsbury is confident he can have or play a larger role with the Wildcats.
“I definitely want to step it up a notch and become an impact player, and player that would play in any situation or anywhere I’m needed while all in the mean time working on my consistency.”
“I want to be able to play in all the situations and be a player that he relied on to help this team win,” Lounsbury said proudly.
There’s no question Preston Lounsbury made the best of every moment up or down in his first foray in the QMJHL. You see Lounsbury has never let adversity or critics derail his dream to play at the highest level possible.