Once again this year, ex NHLer and Hit The Ice Head Coach John Chabot travels to the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Kahnawake to find the best hockey players our Nations have to offer. This year, rather than scouting fifteen players, John and his coaching staff are looking at inviting a total of 26 players.
This is your team
The players have arrived in Gatineau and now try to settle in to their new environment. John and the rest of the staff meet the players and establish what is expected of everyone. Stakes are set pretty high from the get-go as players are quickly informed that not everyone invited will be taking part in the main camp.
Get them legs going
With the first practice and the physical evaluation under their belt, the players are gearing up for a full day on the ice. The coaching staff gets to see the actual talent of the team and as well as who stands out; either as an elite or as a sore thumb. The cuts are approaching and some players are handling the pressure better than others.
Time to show what you got
Today the team will take part in a fully refereed intra-squad game. It is the ultimate moment that will decide who stays for the main camp and who goes home. A few players are already on the bubble, who will rise above and prove their worth?
The morning is and angst-filled one as the dreaded “cut-day” has arrived. Players are told who is officially part of the 2013 Hit The Ice roster and who is sadly sent home. After heartfelt goodbyes the remaining players embark, quite literally, on a 2-day team bonding journey.
Down to business
Its back to business and the official roster hits the ice for the first time as a team. The day is harder on some as injuries creep up on a few players and others are called out for lacking effort. And a one-on-one battle drill turns sour and threatens one player’s ability to continue.
What’s a player
Stephanie gives the boys some much-needed cooking and nutrition lessons. Ottawa Senators scout Rob Murphy gives the team some pertinent info on what it takes to get noticed by scouts, which, to John’s dismay, doesn’t quite translate into the afternoon’s lackluster on-ice performance.
Drawing on experience
Goaltending coach Sudarshan “Sudsie” Maharaj is back to help the boys in net get ready for their upcoming game. Two other pros from the NHL pop by to help turn the tides. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Marc Methot from the Ottawa Senators spend the day and let the players in on what it takes to be a pro player.
Here we go boys
It’s game day! The first out of two important showcase games is finally here. The players were warned that not everyone would be playing and a few boys are forced to watch the game from the sidelines. Scouts are present and so are the nerves. No one wants to lose and every player wants to prove to the coaching staff that they made the right choice in keeping them in the line-up.
One of the players has some news for the coaching staff and a few others are still processing the outcome of the first game. Complacency is slowly creeping in again but John calls on a few NHL pros to spark things up. On-ice rivals but off-ice friends Derek Brassard of the New York Rangers and Grant Clitsome of the Winnipeg Jets join the Hit The Ice team for the day.
He’s baaa-aack! Maxime Talbot of the Philadelphia Flyers pays the boys a surprise visit and this time he has brought along his Stanley Cup winning buddy Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburg Penguins. The two NHL stars offer tips and pointers on the ice but also take part in a crazy afternoon away from the rink.
True role model
There are only a few Aboriginal players in the NHL today. And even fewer that have won a Stanley Cup. Jordan Nolan of the L.A. Kings is one of them. He joins the Hit The Ice team to help them get ready both physically and mentally for their last big game.
This is our time
Time for the second showcase game! For those who received interest from scouts after the last game, it’s a opportunity to seal the deal. For the others who were not approached, it’s a second shot at making a first impression. This is the moment dreams are made of. Time to shine.