TV series shines light on aboriginal hockey players
Hit The Ice being filmed at arenas throughout Ottawa-Gatineau
A new reality television show being shot at arenas throughout Ottawa-Gatineau is giving young, talented hockey players from northern reserves the chance to train with big-league coaches and be seen by scouts.
Hit The Ice is scheduled to air in January next year.
It features longtime NHL player and coach John Chabot, an Algonquin man raised in Maniwaki.
He told CBC News aboriginal hockey players are often overlooked.
'Sometimes these kids just get get buried,' coach says
He also said drinking and drug use, while prevalent in communities all over Canada, is "maybe a little worse off" in northern communities.
"Sometimes these kids just get buried," Chabot said.
"They get to the bantam age and they're fantastic players, but then they're playing men's hockey, and then they get into the wrong things, they realize that their hockey thing's over, and they just get pushed to the wrong direction."
Hit the Ice will follow these players through training camp as they compete to be part of the team, learning skills and getting guidance from professionals along the way.
"It's going to reinvigorate them, I think," Chabot said.
Florida Panthers defenceman Erik Gudbranson, from Ottawa, has signed on to be a guest coach for a day.
He's only 20 years old and he said he thinks the young players will be able to relate to him.
"I think they're going to have fun and they're going to work hard, and hopefully they grasp the opportunity and take it very seriously," Gudbranson said.