He has six games left to play. And with every point Liam Blackburn gets, he will etch his name deeper into the Cariboo Cougars record book.
When the Cougars swept the Okanagan Rockets in a B.C. Hockey Major Midget League doubleheader last weekend at CN Centre, Blackburn established himself as the all-time single-season scoring leader for the Cariboo club. In 5-3 and 8-4 victories for the Cats, the 16-year-old centreman recorded four goals and two assists. In the process, he elevated his season totals to 26 goals and 67 points and moved himself ahead of previous record-holder Brett Bulmer, who had 28 goals and 63 points in the 2008-09 season.
"It's really good," Blackburn said of setting a new offensive benchmark for the Cougars. "There have been lots of really good players that have come through this organization and to outdo them and get a few more points than them is a big privilege."
Blackburn's record-setting 64th point came on a goal 35 seconds into the Sunday win. On the play, he was parked alone near the front of the Okanagan net and used his hand to knock down a high shot from the blueline. Once the puck was on his stick, goaltender Brenden Mills was at his mercy.
"I went backhand, forehand, backhand, into the net," Blackburn said. "It was one of my top goals in the last few weekends. It was a really good feeling to finally surpass [the record]. It was a goal I've had since the start of the season."
Bulmer went on to have a successful WHL career with the Kelowna Rockets and was chosen by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2010 NHL entry draft. He played nine games for the Wild in the fall of 2011 and is currently skating for Minnesota's farm team, the Houston Aeros.
When Blackburn considers the path Bulmer has taken in hockey, he sees possibilities for himself.
"It just shows that as long as you put in the hard work that [Bulmer] put in over the years, then you can reach the level that [he] got to," Blackburn said.
Bulmer was a second-year member of the Cougars when he set the original scoring record, while Blackburn is a first-year Cat.
Earlier this season, the WHL's Victoria Royals added Blackburn to their 50-player protected list so he has a good chance to step into major-junior hockey in the coming years. He is, however, also considering taking the junior A route with his hometown Prince George Spruce Kings.
Blackburn has a great stick around the net but one of his biggest assets is his ability to make players around him better. This season, he has been playing on a line with wingers Braiden Epp and Logan Styler and those two players are both top-10 scorers in the MML.
"Blackburn's a character guy and a great teammate," said Cariboo head coach Trevor Sprague. "He comes to work hard every single game and hasn't underestimated the opportunity he has had to be a Cariboo Cougar and to develop and be the player that he wants to be.
"He's a good example for every other kid in the dressing room on what hard work and being a good teammate is all about," Sprague added. "That's why things are working the way they are for him. He hasn't been given anything, he has earned everything."
Tonight and Sunday, Blackburn and the second-place Cougars (26-7-1) will be in Kamloops to take on the 10th-place Thompson Blazers (6-24-2). Next weekend, the Cats will play a pair of home games against the South Island Royals and they'll finish their regular season with road contests against the Vancouver Northeast Chiefs on the March 2-3 weekend.