Oshawa, ON – Ever since he first laced up a pair of skates, Justin Danforth, has had to beat the odds and prove his detractors wrong. In the 14 years he has played hockey the criticism was always the same, he’s too small, he stickhandles too much, and he doesn’t mix it up!
Justin fed off that criticism. He has worked hard and he has succeeded! He patrols the wing for the Cobourg Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League where he has recorded 17 points in 16 games this year. However, the highlight of his year came in mid-November when he played in the World Junior under 19 Championship series in Langley BC. The team took home the Silver Medal and Justin was named the MVP for the final game. His Cobourg Cougars coach Justin Teakle says Danforth plays hard and excels in the big games. As for Justin, he seized the opportunity and made the most of it. “It was a tremendous experience to play against the best in the world and I think it elevated my game quite a bit,” said Justin. “I like to skate hard and fast and I needed that to compete with these players because the difference in speed at this level compared to OJHL is very noticeable.”
It has been a long road to get to this point for both Justin and his family. “We would hit about 20 tournaments from January to January,” explains his father Kent Danforth. “From a very young age both Justin and his older brother Brandon were involved in hockey so my wife and I sort of split things up. She would take one of the boys to one practice and I would take the other to a game. It was the same in the summer time because both were involved in Lacrosse.”
Father and son. Justin wearing his Team Canada jersey sits with his dad Kent in the kitchen of their Oshawa home
Prove them Wrong!
Kent Danforth is a Quality Control Processor at Aerotech Incorporated in Whitby, Ontario and a member of IAMAW Local Lodge 905. He has instilled in his sons a simple mantra if they say you can’t do it prove them wrong. For Justin, this was put to the test when he was 8 years old and undertook to make his first Triple A hockey team. “He worked his ass off and I thought there was no way they would cut him but they did,” explains Kent.
“He was very upset and I felt bad for him because he worked so hard for it. I told him that when the next opportunity comes up, get out there and show them they were wrong.”
Opportunity did knock again, when the same team had an opening, Justin made the most of it winning MVP honours for a tournament and then staying with that team for the remainder of the season.
It has been said that every Canadian kid who plays hockey has aspirations of making it to the NHL, but only a select few get there. Justin Danforth is mature beyond his 18 years. “I’ll take that one step at a time,” he says choosing his words carefully. “My education comes first so my next goal is to attend university in the US and play at the NCAA level and go from there. I want to earn a business degree so that if professional hockey, NHL or Europe, doesn’t work out, I can start a career with my own business.”
Justin feels he can meet any challenge both on and off the ice because of a simple yet effective piece of advice from his father Kent. “My dad has had to kick my butt a few times over the years, encouraging me to turn it up a few notches,” recalls Justin. “There is no tomorrow, you can’t take a day off if you want to make it and I remember that each time I step onto the ice.” The next time Justin steps on the ice will be on December 27-29, 2011 in Smith Falls, as a member of Team East in the inaugural Central Canada All-Star Challenge. The best players of Central Canadian Junior A leagues will compete in a round-robin tournament.
Justin Danforth in action during a Team Canada practice