This month’s Alberta Elite Hockey League Alumni Spotlight features Jantzen Leslie, formerly of the Lloydminster U15 AAA Heat and U18 AAA Bobcats.
Born and raised in Lloydminster, Jantzen hit the ice for the first time at an early age, and took to the game quickly.
“I started skating at CanSkate and learning with my dad,” he said. “After that I just got enrolled in Timbits Hockey and fell in love. My Dad has always been my biggest influence, being there to either coach, give advice, or help me along the way.”
Jantzen played all of his grassroots hockey with the Lloydminster Minor Hockey Association, before moving on to play elite hockey with the Lloydminster U15 AAA Heat in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, serving as team Captain for the latter, and then with the Lloydminster U15 AAA Bobcats in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Jantzen won a U15 AAA (then the AMBHL) championship with the Heat in 2014, and a U18 AAA (then the AMHL) championship with the Bobcats in 2016, helping his team to a national championship appearance at the 2016 Telus Cup. While both stand out as highlights for Jantzen, it was the stop in between the league and national championship that he remembers the most.
“My favourite memory about playing in Alberta was winning the Alberta BC pacific final in U-18 to go to the Telus Cup,” he said. “Lloydminster packed into the Civic Center to cheer on our minor hockey team.”
Jantzen looks back on his grassroots days as important building blocks for his junior and post-secondary hockey career.
“Minor Hockey gave me a spot to work on the fundamentals of my game,” he said. “I got to a point where I had my basics almost mastered so when I went to play junior and beyond I could build off of my base and become a more refined player.”
Jantzen also served as captain for Team Northeast at the 2014 Alberta Cup, leading his squad to an appearance in the finals, and earned a silver medal at the 2015 Canada Winter Games with Team Alberta.
Jantzen was drafted in the first round, 15th overall by the Everett Silvertips at the 2014 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. After suiting up for a handful of WHL games in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, he was traded to the Saskatoon Blades, where he played from 2016-2018, before being traded to the Edmonton Oil Kings for the remainder of the 2017-18 season.
After moving on from Junior hockey, Jantzen played for the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings from 2018-2022, where he is currently a student. He’s set to graduate in the Spring of 2022, and will start work as a full-time accountant in September. Jantzen also took part in Hockey Alberta’s Future Leaders program in 2019, and was selected as a distinguished future leader for his leadership, professionalism, enthusiasm and willingness to give back to the game of hockey. He’s recently added coaching to his resume as well, making a return to the Alberta Elite Hockey League behind the bench as an assistant coach with the Red Deer U15 AAA Rebels in the 2020-21 season.
As he gets set to move on to the next stage of his life, Jantzen credits his time in hockey for his growth not only as an athlete, but as a person.
“Hockey has given many opportunities to me,” he said. “Whenever I walk in to an interview and I mention my involvement in hockey, it reflects very positively on me. The life skills that have been taught to me through hockey have landed me every opportunity I have ever needed.”
Jantzen’s advice to young, aspiring athletes is simple; don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
” I was worried that mistakes meant I wasn’t good for so long, and it stunted my development,” he said. “You wont be perfect in a hockey game and to be better mentally and physically, we have to accept that.”