This issue puts the spotlight on Noah Juulson, who proudly wears #8 as a defenseman for Le Rocket de Laval. Laval Families Magazine gets to know this dynamic player on and off the ice.

Early Years
Hailing from Abbotsford, BC, Juulsen was already skating at three years old, and had plenty of playtime with his two older brothers, Tyler and Nick, along with his younger sister, Kaitlyn. Ever the athlete, Juulsen was as skilled with a hockey stick as he was with a Lacrosse one. It wasn’t long before he took up roller hockey and then finally settling on ice hockey as the sport he was destined to shine in.

When you take hockey as seriously as 16-year-old Noah did, you have to make certain sacrifices. High school relationships and friends can be a challenge when you’re only in school two hours a day and training on the ice for several hours after that. “As a 16-year-old kid it was tough at times, you know, maintaining relationships, but I made it work.”

Juulsen says his family’s support was instrumental in his early success. “My parents would come to all my games. I know it was a lot of work for them,” he says.

All of that hard work paid off in 2015, when Juulsen was selected 26th overall in the NHL draft for Les Canadiens de Montreal. “That was probably my biggest moment, when I really realized I could make it,” he says. He looks upon his time with the Everett Ice Caps as one of tremendous learning and opportunity. “I was just soaking it all in, taking advantage of everything they were offering me, to learn and become a better player,” says Juulsen. “It was amazing, at the Junior level, to have been able to take the two U.S. division banners.”

Being a Rocket
Early in Le Rocket de Laval’s first season, Juulsen suffered a severe injury to his foot, and was unable to play for 9 weeks. “It’s tough, you know, because bones just need their time to heal and doctors can only do so much,” says Juulsen. Undeterred, he showed up at the gym every day in a walking boot to work on upper body strength. “It was important to me to keep working out, so I could come back stronger for the team,” he says. “It was tough just sitting out the games [during convalescence], because you just don’t know what to do.”

After a long recovery period, Juulsen was able to get back on the ice in early 2018 and has a clear vision for where he wants to improve as a player. “Getting my stick in the right position is what I’m working on with coaches after practices,” he says. As a defenseman, Juulsen says his strengths lie in keeping it simple. “If I see a play, I gotta make it right away, I get in the rush if I can and get physical sometimes too,” says Juulsen.

The daily training ritual of the players involves getting to the rink early in the morning, working out in the gym, viewing clips of games and practices to analyze and improve, followed by hitting the ice for practice until about midday. On game days, there are no exceptions. The team is followed by a nutritionist once or twice a week, keeping the players in check with healthy eating habits.

Juulsen says the secret to creating an unstoppable team has as much to do with the players’ skills as it does the ability to work together. “Building chemistry with a team is huge for sure…and getting to know each other [off the ice].” Juulsen says that as a team player, you have to get out on the ice every day and prove that you’re working hard.

Off the Ice
Aside from hockey, Juulsen is a typical 21-year-old. Living in Laval with his girlfriend—who followed him here from Abbotsford—Juulsen enjoys country music and being in the outdoors. He says that if he couldn’t have become an athlete, he might have liked to be a firefighter or policeman. “Those are jobs that still give you that team atmosphere,” he says.

With a first Quebec winter under his belt, he now appreciates BC’s climate more than ever before. Though his immediate family still live back home, he’s in constant contact with them through text messages and calls, and his family has visited him here in Laval.

On his downtime off the ice, Juulsen might be found exploring Laval and downtown Montreal with his girlfriend or some of the other players. “Adapting to all the French here has been difficult, but the people are all really nice, so it’s been awesome so far,” he says.

Though his family are his number one fans, Juulsen is quick to sign autographs when asked, even if he’s being asked to sign someone’s shoe! “I think that’s part of it, making it fun for the fans and the young kids that come up to me,” he says.

What is it about Juulsen that has allowed him to achieve so much in such a short time? “I think it’s about coming to the rink and to the gym, every day. Not because you have to be there, but because you want to,” he says. “You want to be your best and do your best.”