Junior Guilmain Brings Experience to Bellingham Hockey
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Bellingham’s Ayden Guilmain first stepped onto the ice to learn how to skate around the age of five years old, and it wasn’t too long after that he wanted to play hockey just like his father.
“My dad played hockey, and I guess that influenced me to give it a try,” Guilmain said. “Once I started playing I enjoyed the environment of being in the rink playing with the older kids.”
Since the beginning days of his hockey career, Guilmain found that he really enjoyed the sport; his continuous play had him moving up the hockey ladder as he got older, and soon he was playing for a club team, the Rhode Island Saints out of Warwick. Playing for the Saints was the high level of play that he needed to get ready for his high school career with the Black Hawks. Guilmain found himself playing for the Saints from August to November until the high school season began.
For the majority of his hockey life, the now Bellingham junior skated as a forward, primarily a center. When younger coaches would try him out in various position looking to see where he would fit in best. The ultimate result was he was best fitted as a forward.
While he could have played as an eighth grader for Bellingham, he held off until his freshman campaign because he felt he was too young.
“In high school you’re playing against 17- and 18-year-olds, when you’re only a 14-year old freshman. It’s all very intimidating, but the players were all welcoming,” he said.
As a freshman, he didn’t expect to get a ton of playing time, he was just looking to get enough to learn and adjust to the varsity level of hockey. That season, Bellingham found themselves short one defenseman, and the coaching staff felt that Guilmain would be the perfect move.
“The coaches thought that I as a fast skater and would make a good defenseman,” Guilmain said. “I was the sixth defenseman that year, so I saw some minutes on the ice, but there were five older defensemen ahead of the me getting most of the playing time.”
According to the now junior, the varsity athletes were much faster and stronger than he was, so it was definitely a tough introduction to the high school sport. However, getting those precious minutes helped his game and prepared him for this sophomore season.
Although he was unsure of just where he would be playing in the ice for the Blackhawks, he continued to practice as a forward with the RI Saints, and luckily Bellingham had a bunch of defensemen join the team that year, so he was moved back to his forward position.
About midway through the season, Guilmain was promoted to the first line to play center between two senior wingers. He realized that his hard work had finally paid off, and he was getting the chance to show what he could do.
“It was still a challenge as I’m a smaller guy, weight wise,” Guilmain said. “I was able to put up good numbers that year, but I also played with two talented seniors on the wings that really pushed me to be my very best.”
This year, he’s playing with two new wingers but is once again succeeding. At press time, the first line center had scored 6 goals and added 3 assists for Bellingham.
“He’s a very good player that possess a high hockey IQ with the skills to play the game,” Bellingham Coach Brad Kwatcher said. “Ayden is a quiet kid for the most part, but he’s a hard worker and a battler for us. He’s also a two-way player (who) continues to help out on getting back and playing defense.”
Bellingham has a lot of players gracing their lineup this winter, and Guilmain has remained steadfast to helping the younger players get stronger and grow as hockey players.
“I remember when I was their age. Experience is a big part of their growing, I grew so much as a player between my first and second years,” he said. “I want to go out there and work hard while pushing myself to be a leader on this team. The younger kids seem to look up to me seeing how hard I work and I think it influences them to do the same.”
Although Bellingham is not having an overall fantastic season, Guilmain really wants to be part of a team that can eventually put together some wins and make it into the State Tournament.