LIVERPOOL - Two Queens County natives are hoping to take the major Bantam hockey scene by storm as they play in front of a hometown crowd with the Western Hurricanes.
Fourteen-year-old Nate Killam and 13-year-old Kiefer Huskins have been playing hockey since they were about four. Both Killam and Huskins began to play the game because their fathers played hockey. Killam was also inspired to play because of his brothers.
Killam plays defense, while Huskins is a forward.
Becoming part of the Western Hurricanes is no simple feat.
“You’ve got to train hard and work really hard to get on (the team),” said Killam.
Earning a spot on the team begins with attending an ID camp. About 40 players are invited and take part in scrimmages, explained Huskins, a Grade 8 student. There’s also a fitness test and practices.
“Then you’d have more tryouts, and you go to an early-bird tournament, and then there are cuts,” said Killam.
The whole tryout process involves three phases.
Once players have made the cut, the hard work is far from finished. The hockey season is just ramping up, and players have to be prepared to give it their best. Killam and Huskins agree playing on the team means a lot of hard work.
“Once you’re on the team, it feels good, but you can’t stop training or anything or else you don’t get as much ice time,” said Killam. “You’ve got to work hard to get your ice and earn it.”
The team practices every Tuesday and Thursday, and there’s off-ice training Monday nights. Games are every Saturday and Sunday.
For Huskins, one of the most challenging things about playing on the team is remembering all the plays. Killam agrees but adds that another challenging aspect is not being afraid to get hit.
Despite the challenges, both boys agree they enjoy playing in the league because the hockey is better and faster. And there’s hitting, added Huskins, who had never played hockey that involved contact previously.
Another thing that comes with playing for the Western Hurricanes is learning. Killam said he’s learned to always work hard and keep his head up, while Huskins has also learned not to be late and not to worry about “messing up” on the ice.
The Queens County hockey players don’t just learn valuable skills from their sport when they’ve got their skates on. Killam said hockey helps keep him in shape and allows him to socialize with peers. Players are expected to maintain certain grades to get ice time, which means working hard at school is another important off-ice skill.
“I think for all of the kids on the team, it’s a great organization to be involved in,” said Killam’s mother, Annette Killam. “They work very hard not only in developing the kids on the ice but helping them with life skills beyond hockey.”
So far, Killam and Huskins have played six games with the Hurricanes, winning five and losing one. For Killam, it’s exciting to play at home where his friends and family are watching.
If you go: The next home game for the Western Hurricanes is scheduled to take place at 5 p.m. on Oct. 14 at Queens Place Emera Centre against the Truro Bearcats.
Did you know?
There are 12 teams in the Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League, and each team covers a different region. The Western Hurricanes includes players from Chester to Yarmouth.
Go online: For more information about the Western Hurricanes, visit http://westernhurricanes.goalline.ca/, and for more information about the NSMBHL, go to http://nsmbhl.goalline.ca/.
The O’Regan’s Subaru Western had a four-point weekend recently, with two wins over the Novas.
On Sept. 30, the Hurricanes peppered goalie Kenzie MacPhail with 49 shots moving toward a 3-1 victory.
Cameron Duval paced the Hurricanes with two goals and Konnor Benjamin added a single. Konnor MacInnis stopped 13 of 14 shots for the victory.
On Oct. 1, the Hurricanes were back at it again against the Novas and added another 39 shots on goal.
The Novas took an early 3-2 lead into the third period before the Hurricanes ran off three straight goals on their way to a 5-3 win. Luke Woodworth had two goals and an assist, Nolan O’Brien and Will Chisholm each had a goal and an assist, while Mason MacLean chipped in with a single and Benjamin added two assists.
Jeremy Charles earned the winning goal for the Hurricanes.
With the two wins, the Hurricanes remain in third place in the Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League (NSMBHL).
The Hurricanes are scheduled to host the Truro Bearcats in Liverpool Oct. 14 and take on the Bedford Barons at the BMO Centre Oct. 15.