A Look At: Strathroy’s Turner Balasin – by C. Scott Holland

Being a hometown boy makes playing for the Strathroy Rockets that much sweeter for Strathroy Rockets forward Turner Balasin. The 6′ product of the Strathroy minor hockey system has lots to adjust to this season.

Having played with the Elgin Middlesex AAA minor atoms and then the North Middlesex Stars Jr. C hockey club last season, Turner said, “It’s great, but there’s so much to take in …I’ve always looked up to the Rockets.”

But some of his excitement of playing for the Rockets is diminished when he knows that “there’s plenty of pressure being a hometown kid; I see lots of faces in the crowding watching me.”

Balasin’s skills run in the family – his father was a Senior A player for the Chatham Maroons but despite some occasional criticism he does get lots of support from his family – especially from his brother who is in Calgary.

A highlight of his young career was scoring the game winning goal in game five of the OMHA championship and having his team win it. It was a moment when he realized what he could do with his hockey skills.

For the forward who will turn 17 on December 13 this year, he says “my role model is Alex Ovechkin.”

Yet he may be undecided as to his future because he not only excels in hockey, he is a two-time defending club champion at Caradoc Sands Golf Club. Right now for the 1 or 2 handicap golfer, he hasn’t decided to which sport he’ll gravitate, saying, “I’ll see where it takes me.”

As for his current hockey situation he believes his shot is his best asset but feels, “I’ve got to use it more in games as well as use my size more.”

Memories of playing those first couple of contests for the Rockets still are vivid in his mind. He wanted to see how well he could compete against the other players and assess his skill level.

Another aspect was whether he could compete with the older, more skilled players.

Obtaining his first two Junior B goals has already been a highlight for him of this season and it came “with lots of my friends and family at that contest.”

While his stats aren’t spectacular he has adjusted slowly to playing at the higher level. But it has been an even more difficult transition for him and his teammates as they have had been in a slump lately having not won in their last nine games. He feels that himself the team needs “to focus on our intensity during the game …”

Personally, he knows he has to “improve with more control over the puck” and admits, “I don’t like to make poor decisions when I’m on the ice so sometimes it forces me to not carry the puck as much, or not take out as many guys as I’d like to.”

He has earned the confidence of the Rockets’ coaching staff though and has been put on the powerplay unit. Some of that confidence was the direct result of his first goals and his natural ability around the net.  He finds the local support growing as young kids want to fist pump with him and the loud crowd cheering at home games.

But for the 187 lbs. rookie forward his biggest challenge lies ahead.  Looking down the road, he has no particular plans and is “taking it one step at a time. I’ll see where my game takes me.”

With such a casual approach and positive attitude, Turner is bound to succeed no matter what in direction he heads.

(Photo credit – Colleen Wiendels Phtography)

C. Scott Holland is an accomplished author, a former Western Jr. B Hockey League statistician and is recognized as the West Conference’s and GOJHL’s historian. A lifelong resident of Leamington Scott was a journalist for the now defunct Leamington Post for 26 years and currently writes for the Southpoint Sun. Among the books he has authored are: 75 Years: A History of the Leamington and Erie Shores Golf Course; A Century In The Making – History of Heinz Canada 1909-2009; Leamington Flyers 1992/93-2011/12 Platinum Anniversary Special Program; the Western Jr. B Record Book 2003/04 and 2005/06 editions; as well as updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 27 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award. He resides in Leamington with his wife Susan.
He can be reached at cttocsh1@yahoo.ca

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