This may not be Carter Hill’s first rodeo, but it just might be his biggest opportunity yet.
The 16-year-old right winger from Hay River has been invited to attend an all-expenses-paid camp for aboriginal players in Ottawa in July, where he will join 28 others from across Canada in the second instalment of the popular ‘Hit the Ice’ training camp.
“It’ll mean lots of opportunities,” Hill said. “It’ll help open doors to major junior teams all over Canada.”
Hill had been scouted last year for the pilot season of the televised training camp that aired on APTN in January. He was just under the minimum age of 16 at the time, but was high up on the list of players invited this year, according to John Chabot, an ex-NHL player and the organizer of the camp.
“Carter has been on our radar for a while now,” he told The Hub. “It was just a matter of timing and communication.”
Chabot explained the camp’s goal is to give kids who maybe wouldn’t get invited to regular camps an introduction to the major junior system, as well as a chance to be recruited. Scouts from major junior teams and universities in southern Ontario and Quebec were present last year, resulting in a number of players being scooped up right out of the camp.
“The territories are really the last place in Canada where teams can go and find undiscovered talent,” Chabot said. “This camp is designed to give those kids, who wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to go to camps in the South, a shot.”
The ‘Hit the Ice’ camp will run between July 3-20, but not all participants will make it through to the end.
Most of the participants were scouted traditionally, often as a result of the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, held in Kahnawake, just south of Montreal, at the end of April. But between five and 10 of the participants were chosen from a batch of online applications made to the show. They had to submit videos of themselves and prove that they were ready and able to dedicate themselves to a hockey career. If players are scouted from the show, they could be playing on a Southern team or for a university as early as September.
“One of the questions on the application is, ‘Are you willing to move to play hockey?’” Chabot said. “And everyone invited obviously said yes.”
Hill left home in Hay River in 2009 to pursue his hockey career, first in Yellowknife and most recently in Alberta to play for the Midget AAA Tigers in Medicine Hat. When asked if there was a region or team for whom he would prefer to play, Hill said it didn’t matter much to him.
“I’ll go anywhere, really, so long as there’s good hockey,” he said.
Hill has attended training camps before and said that, while he knows there are some coaches who pick players from their regions to keep logistics simple, that hasn’t been his experience.
“My coach, he just picked who was best for the team and didn’t care where we were from,” he said, adding it can be difficult for players from remote areas to break into major junior teams as there is a glut of hockey talent in their home cities.
As for the televised aspect of ‘Hit the Ice’, Hill isn’t worried.
“It may change things a bit, having people with cameras around all the time,” he said. “But cameras don’t bother me.”
Chabot expects the second season of the show will air sometime in January of 2014.
— Sarah Ladik