With Kevin Kennedy
I played my first ever hockey game when I was about four years old back in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The only thing I really remember from back then is my very first dangle. I remember putting the puck through somebody’s legs and being really excited on my way home.
I don’t remember my parents missing any games as a kid, but something I’ll never forget are the rides home from the rink with my dad. Depending on the game, my ride home with dad was always interesting. If it was a rural game and I played badly it would feel like a two-hour ride home when it was only actually 45 minutes. My dad would have the clip board with the rink on the back and he’d be going over plays while my mom drove. I took it all in and it made me a better player and since then I’ve been able to deal with coaches being hard on me because of it.
As soon as I got home from school I was out to the backyard pond behind my house. It was a big pond with a lot of houses on it so my dad made a path from the house to the pond where I could work on my puckhandling.
I was born while my father was playing for the New York Rangers and I adopted them as my team as a kid. My favourite player growing up was Jaromir Jagr. If I was born a couple years earlier or later I probably would’ve grown up a Calgary Flames fan because that’s where my dad was playing.
I didn’t watch a lot of NHL hockey as a kid, but I was really into the world junior tournament. I remember my parents would let me come home from school early just so I could watch games. Then I got to play in it and I know everybody says it’s very surreal, but it really is. In your very first game you can’t believe you made it to this level.
I’d have to say my most memorable moment in minor hockey happened in my bantam year. I remember we went to a tournament in Price Albert, Saskatchewan and there were a lot of top teams there. I remember Angelo Esposito, Kyle Turris and Luke Schenn were there. We ended up going to the final and I scored the game-winning goal in overtime. It was amazing.