The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has named Chase Heat captain Jacob Biensch as the inaugural recipient of the Jaxon Joseph Memorial Scholarship.
Joseph was one of 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos killed in a tragic bus crash on April 6, 2018. He started his junior hockey career in the KIJHL with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in 2015 before moving on to play Junior A in the B.C. Hockey League and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Joseph’s goal was to play college hockey, and the $2500 scholarship named in his honour is intended for an individual who shares his athletic and academic aspirations while having displayed a commitment to community involvement.
“It’s a huge honour to be recognized as the first recipient of this scholarship,” said Biensch. “I’m sure there were a lot of players that met the criteria in the league.”
Biensch, who is currently exploring his educational and hockey opportunities, has been working towards a Bachelors of Science, with a major in Kinesiology, from the University of Alberta Augustana, while playing with the Heat.
Heat Head Coach Brad Fox said it’s “just a fabulous honour for Jacob.”
“Real fitting, I’m so proud of him,” said Fox. “What a fabulous way to end your career to be awarded this scholarship. It’s going to mean so much to him.”
In 69 career KIJHL regular season games, the Marsden, Saskatchewan native had 35 goals and 37 assists for 72 points, to go with three goals and seven points in seven playoff games. In 37 games this season, Biensch had 26 goals and 53 points and was named the Doug Birks division’s Most Valuable Player.
Along with captaining his team on the ice, Biensch led the way in the community as way of giving back to the fans who filled the Art Holding Memorial Arena for Heat games. Biensch and his teammates visited elementary schools, helped the local Food Bank and participated in the Raise-A-Reader program. One of Biensch’s favourite activities were skates with minor hockey players.
“We would go out there once a week and skate with the kids, skate with my little billet brothers sometimes, which was pretty cool,” he said.
Biensch billeted with Tyson and Hayley Bentley, the same family his older brother Caleb stayed with during his final junior season, Biensch’s rookie season. The Bentleys have become a second family to him as he watched their young kids grow.
Fox said that Biensch is a better person than he is a hockey player.
“Three years ago when he came to us, playing on our hockey team as an 18-year-old, it was evident right away, fitting in, he always was the one to take control of something that needed to be done. He wasn’t afraid of that,” said Fox. “All I would have to do is text him and say we need to be here in an hour. That is why he was such an outstanding captain.
“Essentially when you have leadership like that, it puts the onus on anybody that surrounds him to follow,” continued Fox.” It’s a hard act to follow. That was the precedent that he set.”
Jacob Biensch photo – Tami Quan Photography