Jamie Osborne is a long way from home – 2,156 kilometres to be exact.
The native of Grand Lake, a small community outside Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, admitted he was a little homesick after arriving in Stoney Creek last September to join the Warriors.
“But the guys on our team, they just made me feel so welcome,” said the 19-year-old forward. “We really have a great group of guys.”
Fans of the Warriors are well aware of what Osborne, who wears No. 18, brings to the team. “I love his intensity,” said Warriors’ assistant coach Dave Hill. “He’s an honest, hard-working hockey player, and I am confident good things will come to him in life. He’s a big piece of our future success and the way he’s been playing lately has been an inspiration to all of us.”
Last weekend, ‘Ozzy,’ as he’s known to teammates, scored two goals and added an assist as the Warriors dropped the Welland Canadians 9-5 at Valley Park Arena. So far this season, Osborne has recorded 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points.
“When I first started in the league, it was a big adjustment from what I was used to back home,” said Osborne, who played high school hockey last season. “This league is fast and the players are bigger and stronger. But I believe I’m starting to come into my own.”
Osborne has been teamed with Jordan Gignac and Riley Steeves to give the Warriors a potent scoring line. Gignac is second on the team with 38 points and Steeves has 21 points. The line recorded nine points in the win over Welland. “We work so well together,” said Osborne. “Gignac is a talented player and Steeves is just a workhorse.”
While in Stoney Creek, Osborne is billeted with a local family and has also landed a job at National Sports. “Jamie has really melded into the community,” said Hill. “His billets are like a second family to him and he’s made some good friends and good relationships.”
Osborne said he decided to take a year off school, but hopes to play university hockey in the next few years. “One of the reasons I came here is because there are more opportunities in Ontario,” he said.
While the team has faced some adversity recently, with coaching changes and a tough losing streak, Osborne said he’s looking forward to success in the New Year and the playoffs. “It was tough over the last few weeks, but assistant coaches Hill and Rudy Tokarz really held things together and kept everyone focused on moving in the right direction,” he said.
“Now we have Dan Currie and Jerry Andreatta added to the coaching staff and these are two quality guys. Dan is a real presence behind the bench and holds us all accountable. He’s played pro and understands how players think and feel.”
The Warriors are on a three-game winning streak, having knocked off some of the league’s top teams over the past two weeks. “Even when times were tough, our team continued to believe we had the tools to compete and be among the elite in this league,” said Osborne. “We are starting to feel good about ourselves again and we feel very confident.”
This week, Osborne was struggling to catch a flight home for Christmas, as last week’s winter storm hit his home province a few days after it arrived in Stoney Creek and caused numerous flight delays. “It will be great to get home for Christmas, but I’m looking to forward to coming back Jan. 3,” he said.