Last summer, Carter Hill got the chance to play hockey at another level when he was recruited to former NHLer John Chabot’s reality show training camp, Hit The Ice. Starting Feb. 26, he will get to relive his experiences when the show goes to air.
“The first day was weird,” Hill told to The Hub. “They were in my room all the time… but after a while, you want to be in front of the camera all the time.”
Hit The Ice, about to air its second season on APTN, was conceived by former Habs player John Chabot to encourage young aboriginal players from across the country to play at a higher level. The idea is to get players one step closer to the NHL, with scouts from university and farm teams invited to the exhibition games to see the talent. The camp mimics a professional training camp, but also includes team-building activities like white-water rafting and go-kart racing – for the benefit of the players perhaps as much as the entertainment value.
“I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in when it ended,” said Hill. “It was a lot more intense than I’ve ever done.”
Hill currently plays with the Medicine Hat Tigers Midget AAA team and will be heading to Fairbanks, Alaska, in March for the Arctic Winter Games.
He said the camp was a great experience, and that while there was a good amount of time spent on the ice, the physical conditioning was the biggest difference.
The show is bookended by two games. Hill got sick and missed the final game, but unexpectedly played the opener.
“I ended up playing for the other team in the first game,” he said, adding that, thinking he would be off the ice, he and a friend had pigged out on McDonalds before the match. “I didn’t puke, but let’s just say there was no water left on that bench by the end of the game.”
Having stepped up his game after the first match, Hill said he was disappointed to have been too sick to play the second.
“John (Chabot) was amazing,” he said. “He really worked hard for me, even though I wasn’t playing, trying to get opportunities for me with the scouts anyway.”
Tracy Hill, Carter’s mother, said that just the opportunity to be coached by Chabot was an important experience for her son.
“John was such a great influence on Carter,” she said. “He really pushed him to play with more intensity.”
She hopes that intensity will serve Hill well when he heads off the the Arctic Winter Games next month, though it will not be his first time at the competition.
“Carter won gold with the NWT bantam team a few years ago and it would be great if they could do it again,” she said.
In the short term, Hill looks forward to playing with the team in Fairbanks, adding that he has known most of them for years and played with many of them before.
Next year, however, he hopes to be asked back to Hit The Ice for another shot.