The road may be a little longer for some than others, but Brian Casey believes there are some promising young hockey players on the west coast who have potential to take their game to another level.
Casey, as part owner of the Impact Hockey travel team hockey program, had a number of teams in various age groups make an impressive showing at the 2018 Montreal Meltdown showcase hockey tournament over the weekend.
Impact Hockey had a peewee team bolstered by a handful of players from the west coast win gold with a perfect 6-0 record against some pretty tough AAA peewee teams, while his midget squad, with six former Western Kings on board, posted a record of one win, one loss and two ties while only allowing four goals in the four games.
Casey, a former national team hockey player who is head coach of the U16 male hockey program at King’s-Edgehill School in Windsor, N.S., where he teaches Grade 10 mathematics, said the skills he saw on display at the Montreal Meltdown proved to him that Newfoundland and Labador is producing some skilled players from all over the province, including the west coast. He said players from the west coast held their own against a tough field of competitors with scouts from various college and major junior hockey teams keeping a keen eye on the action.
He admits it’s tougher for players in this province to get noticed, but it doesn’t rule out a player getting where he wants to if he puts in a lot of hard work to make it happen. He believes they can improve their chances by being committed to finding their way to major showcase events like the Montreal Meltdown.
He also believes Newfoundland and Labrador is doing pretty well with player development when he sees provincial teams going away to Atlantic Canada championships and winning medals, something that’s been happening in the last couple of years.
“We’re loaded in talent and skill. It just takes somebody to like you and give you an opportunity,” Casey said Tuesday morning from Windsor.
As long as a player continues to show improvement throughout the year Casey believes they are on the right track, but he doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the chances of beating the odds with so many gifted players competing for the same college or junior hockey opportunities up for grabs.
“When you want to pursue hockey you have to live, eat and sleep it. That’s just how it is. You can’t be in between,” he said.
Before leaving the tournament, Casey said several of his players who hail from the west coast managed to catch the attention of a few people looking for prospects and that proved to him they are doing the right things but just need to keep doing more of it to improve their stock.
“I think we’re in a good place. A lot of it is on the onus of the players that if that’s what they really want then they have to work extremely hard to get there,” he said.