Adding punch to the Crunch

July 15, 2022

What he may lack in size he makes up for with grit and grind and heart and hustle and the dogged determination of a relentless pest.

Desmond Brazeau, a 5-foot-9, 175 pound pepper pot who hails from Timmins, has signed with the Cochrane Crunch of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League ahead of the 2022-2023 season.

A 2003 birth year forward, Brazeau played two seasons with the Timmins Majors of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League and spent the 2021-2022 campaign far away from home with the Atlanta Mad Hatters of the United States Premier Hockey League’s elite division. His signing with Cochrane follows a recruitment process taken by Crunch president and head coach Tom Nickolau.

Nickolau recently had a face to face, first time meeting with Brazeau at the Tim Horton Event Center in Cochrane and said he emerged impressed with the character of the youngster, calling him “a humble and confident kid who knows what it will take to be successful in the NOJHL.”

Brazeau was recommended to Nickolau by a variety of hockey contacts. And the Cochrane hockey boss also did his own homework.

“I got to watch him play at the (recent) Tep Showcase in Toronto,” Nickolau relayed to Hockey News North. “Plus I also saw extensive video of him playing (with Atlanta) in the USPHL. I would describe Desmond as a player who will do whatever it takes to help the team win. Whether it’s to take a hit to make a play or blocking shots and going to the tough areas of the ice, he is a player who will not back down on physical play. He also has the tools to put the puck in the net.”

Steady improvement by way of strong will and dedication have marked Brazeau’s modest climb up the hockey development ladder. In his first U18 season with Timmins in the Great North, Brazeau managed just one goal, one assist, two points in 36 games. In his second U18 season with Timmins in the Great North, Brazeau upped those totals to six goals, six assists, 12 points in 35 games while taking advantage of extra early morning ice time that his dad paid for under the supervision of his coach at the time, Brandon Perry.

Then came the venture to Atlanta and the USPHL in 2021-2022 where Brazeau came through with 12 goals, 21 assists, 33 points and 49 minutes in penalties in 47 games — and opened some eyes in the junior hockey world. And now it is back close to his northern Ontario roots and having signed up to play in the NOJHL as Brazeau prepares for the next step in his hockey career and tries to help Cochrane make the playoffs in 2022-2023 after missing out in 2021-2022.

To be sure, this has the potential makings of a feel-good hockey story.

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