Taking their game up a notch

Doug Lowther

Two local teens represented Tumbler Ridge in the Best Under 15 Hockey try-outs in Vanderhoof  BC April 1 to 3.

U15 is a BC Hockey Program for Male High Performance Hockey players born in 2002 for the 2015-2016 year, who attend a weekend zone camp for tryouts, to be selected to play in the Provincial Championships in Richmond this May. The program was introduced in April 2015 with open Region Camps in throughout BC.

Hockey BC holds four camps, and players are selected from each camp to play in the Championships in Richmond.

The two local boys, Mason Trudel and Konnor Lowther made the decision in November last fall that they wanted to attend the weekend tryouts in Vanderhoof in April.

High Performance Hockey tryouts are not taken lightly by the players; it is a huge commitment. Players hoping to make the cut will train six, sometimes seven days a week, and when they are not on the ice playing and practicing, they are weight training and doing cardio and shooting thousands of pucks in the backyard, to be able to perform at their highest level.

The players that come to these tryouts are the cream of the crop in BC, and it is hockey at its highest level for this age group.

There were approximately 70 kids who competed in the tryouts that weekend in Vanderhoof. The 70 kids are put into four teams, Team Red, Green, White, and Blue. Thirteen evaluators watched them play all weekend in games. At the end of the weekend, only 20 kids out of the 70 move on to Richmond in May for the Championships.

The evaluators are from BC Hockey, National Hockey, WHL as well as other High Performance Hockey Organizations, along with trainers and coaches from teams such as the PG Cougars and other WHL teams.

Tumbler Ridge was not fortunate enough to have enough Bantam players to have a team locally this year, so the two kids had to seek other teams out of town to play in other organizations, or stay in town and just play when they could.

Mason played for a double A Dawson Creek team this past season. He battled through several injuries, but his team made it to the Provincials in Smithers where they were beat out in the last rounds.

Konnor stayed in Tumbler Ridge, and played with the Old Timers and the Rec Hockey players, and also practiced with the PEEWEE’s to get as much ice time and coaching as possible during the season.

The Old Timers invited the boys to play at their practices, and were more than accommodating in allowing the boys to play at their practices Mondays and Fridays, and it greatly helped the boys in fine tuning their skills and learning new moves from some of our local Old Timers that played in the Juniors when they were younger.

Coach Will Howe helped both boys whenever he could, and even volunteered to host private coaching sessions with them to help them prepare for the caliber of hockey they were going to try out for.

The boy’s parents rented the last two weeks of ice time every evening to allow Will Howe to coach them on checking and body contact. Jordie Cool donated his time to come and coach a session, and show some of his secrets, and to give them pointers as to what they could expect at the try outs, and talk to them about the physiological, and the hard physical aspect and what they could expect. Seth Treit also helped with every practice, and did a great job.

The boys didn’t make the cut this year, but they played excellent hockey, and it was a hard decision for the evaluators.

Without the help of our local coaches and the mentoring from our older players here in Tumbler Ridge, the boys would not have been able to try out for hockey of this caliber.