PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L. – The Bruce II Sports Centre hosted a meet and greet on Saturday, June 23, with hometown hockey favourite Alex Drover. The 15-year- old forward was selected 10th overall by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles at the 2018 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) draft.
Alex and his parents, Rick and Valerie, crossed the Gulf for the weekend to visit friends in the area.
“Time is, right now, of the essence,” said Rick about the short trip. “Our family is on the other side (of the island) but we couldn’t do it all in one shot because of hockey commitments.”
One of those commitments is the upcoming Team Canada tryouts on July 20. After that Alex will report to camp on Aug. 15 to try out for the Screaming Eagles.
Currently he is on a daily training program set out by Hockey Canada in preparation for the Team Canada camp.
“I got the Team Canada camp coming up,” said Alex. “It’s such a hard camp that they put that training program in place, so you . . . won’t be injured as easily. So I’ve been following that so I’ll be up to par when camp comes.”
A total of 111 players were invited to Team Canada camp. Alex is one of 63 forwards who will be competing for a roster spot.
“I’m happy to be invited to the camp. I’m going to give it everything I have to be able to . . . make it.”
His father, Rick, noted the invitation is the beginning of a process that will eventually lead the best players in Canada to the World Juniors in a few years.
“Basically, they said that at this stage it’s a . . . development camp to . . . identify the top players in Canada so that when he gets 19-20 years old, for the World Junior Championships.”
In order to prepare for the Screaming Eagles, Alex is also working under the guidance of a personal trainer.
“I’m following a program that my personal trainer has given to me, for building up strength so I won’t be bullied around out there playing 21-year-olds. Then I’m doing a mobility program as well, so I can stay . . . loose.”
The mobility program regimen was actually given to Alex by the mobility coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. All of this training is a job in itself.
“This is my full-time job and I couldn’t be happier,” he said.
But on Saturday at the Bruce II, Alex was focused primarily on having fun with some young fans.
He spent the first part of the three hours playing ball hockey with players of various ages, taking time to pose with the kids individually and for group photos afterwards. After that he headed upstairs to sign some autographs and spend some more time with the kids.
“This here today is very special for Port aux Basques minor hockey and the town,” said Rick.
“I love it,” agreed Alex. “It’s nice to be back to my home, where I grew up. It’s amazing. I have to say, you know, what the guys in the community did for me here today – it’s everything I could have ever wished for.”
The Drovers even managed to head down to MacDougalls beach when the capelin came in on Friday night, June 22.
“We never got any, but he participated in it and he loved that,” said Rick.
Alex has also spent a bit of time watching this year’s NHL entry draft.
“It’s pretty cool I gotta say. It’s a lot like the Q draft was, just the way it went down. It’s amazing. I have to say the process behind it, it’s unbelievable.”
Alex’s ultimate goal is to someday play in the NHL. For now, he’s still a wee bit too young.
“That’s the dream. NHL is the ultimate goal and being drafted there is step one.”
For his upcoming 16th birthday in July, Alex plans on putting a bit of time aside to celebrate by getting his driver’s license learning permit.
“That’s one thing I’d not miss! I’m definitely finding time for that.”
And will Rick be gifting his son with a new car?
“I’m still trying to pay off his hockey sticks from all the years!” he laughed.