Sebastien Bordeleau was known for his prowess in the face-off dot. When his team needed a win in the circle, the centerman would often prevail, carrying a win rate of 57.1% over his seven-year NHL career.
Now, 20 years later, Thomas Bordeleau is following in his father’s footsteps, earning that same distinction on the University of Michigan hockey team, which ranks No. 2 in the country, according to USA Today.
Thomas is highly-regarded for his ability to win draws in key moments, praising his dad for teaching him the fundamentals on the ice at an early age.
“I’ve always been trusted in those situations,” Thomas said. “It kind of came from my dad. He was good at it back in the days. He taught me early on that it was free ice time. If coach trusts you in the face-off dot, then you’re going to get on more often. I’m definitely having fun with it. It’s a part of my game I want to keep improving and trying to perform well at the next level too.”
Through 11 games, the sophomore forward holds a 57.8% (119-for-206) success rate in the face-off dot. On top of that team-leading statistic, the San Jose Sharks’ 38th overall pick from the 2020 NHL Draft is averaging a point-per-game pace with two goals and nine assists.
Brendan Brisson with the go-ahead goal from Thomas Bordeleau, Michigan 3, Minnesota State 2 pic.twitter.com/7vkV5Rv8mv
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) October 16, 2021
While Thomas’ face-off expertise is well known by the San Jose Sharks and its fan base, his game is continually being well-rounded. That comes in part via the mentoring through his father Sebastien, who works as the Nashville Predators forward development coach.
“Having him as my dad is definitely a big plus,” Thomas said. “We watch my shifts a lot together. He gives me pointers not just on the ice, but on the emotional stuff. He was an emotional player. He competed at the highest level, so it’s fun.”
How often does Sebastien take time to help out his son?
“I watch every game that he has,” Sebastien said. “I can’t travel to see him every game because I’m busy with the Predators, but as much as I can, I try to help him out and answer his questions and go over his shifts.”
Sebastien and his wife, Chantal Dubois, got the opportunity to watch Thomas play college hockey for the first time this season in Michigan’s home opener against Lake Superior State. Thomas’ parents couldn’t spectate any games in person last year due to the Big Ten Conference’s COVID-19 protocols.
“It was nice seeing the fans back at Yost Arena,” Sebastien said. “It was a lot of fun to see Thomas play and score. I thought he played some of his best hockey. We spoke briefly after the game, talking about little adjustments in his game.”
Sebastien took note of his face-offs during the two-game slate. He reminded his 19-year-old son to focus on his mindset.
“Instead of chasing the puck, you own the puck,” Sebastien said. “Every coach is looking for guys who can win face-offs in those key moments in the game. I say to Thomas, ‘Do you want to be that guy, or do you want to be that guy that watches on the bench?’ That’s the mindset you must have if you want to be that guy.”
Thomas acknowledges his father’s words of wisdom, but also looks to add to his bag of tricks in the face-off dot, including a new tool of switching his hands when lining up.
“I learned that from my dad, but for me, it’s like being safe,” Thomas said. “When I do that, I know I’m going to win it.”
What specific elements has Thomas been working on aside from his face-off game?
“I’m trying to be more aggressive on pucks with my explosiveness. I need to move my feet a little bit more. I’ve always been scanning and keeping them to the outside and be ready to pounce when they don’t move. I’m working on applying more of a constant pressure on a guy.”
The San Jose Sharks have high hopes for Bordeleau. Case in point, San Jose Hockey Now ranked Bordeleau second behind only William Eklund in SJHN’s official top-10 prospects rankings.
Bordeleau is probably at least a couple years from establishing himself on the Sharks roster, but after earning some valuable time with their development camp over the summer and continuing to learn alongside some of the best progressing players at Michigan, Thomas has the potential to be a true two-way center in the National Hockey League in the near future.
The Bordeleau family is happy with how the Sharks are handling the young face-off prodigy.
“San Jose has been really good for him,” Sebastien said. “[Sharks Director of Scouting] Doug Wilson Jr. and [Sharks Development Coach] Mike Ricci has been really helpful for him. They’ve been preaching different things in how they want him to play. At Michigan, he’s been playing with some very good players. It’s almost like a taste of the NHL for him because once you get to the NHL, you’re starving for ice time. It’s a good challenge for him in that regard. It’s a good learning spot for him before the next step.”
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) August 19, 2021
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