‘I’ve always dreamed of this’: Nunavut hockey player reflects on playing for U.S. team

0 2

Daniel McKitrick grew up playing hockey in Coral Harbour, Nunavut — an Arctic community on the northern shoreline of Hudson’s Bay, where the average winter temperature is in the –20s C.

Now he trains just a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, around a 10 minute drive from the beach. It’s just about always warm enough to go for a dip.

“It’s hot here all the time, even the winter,” says 25-year-old McKitrick.

Earlier this year he was signed to the Mississippi Sea Wolves in Biloxi, Mississippi, and he’s been playing for them since October. The team is part of the Federal Prospects Hockey League.

While he says he’s played in tournaments in the U.S. before, this year marks his first full season there.

MicKitrick has been training to join high-level hockey from a young age. By the time he was in Grade 6 he moved to Thunder Bay, Ont., to pursue his love of the game.

McKitrick, who currently plays for the Mississippi Sea Wolves, a hockey team based in Biloxi, Mississippi, says it’s been his dream to play in a professional league — and now he’s doing it. (Submitted by Daniel McKitrick)

Though the move to Biloxi was a bit of an adjustment, hockey remains a constant feature, no matter where he ends up.

“Everything is the same at the rink,” he says. “It’s far from home but I have really good teammates here and coaches and everyone involved makes me feel at home … So it hasn’t been that hard at all.”

McKitrick says he lives with a few of his teammates in an apartment. 

“So it’s really fun,” he says.

They train a lot during the week and have games on the weekends — so far he’s already played in 15. He says he’s earned 12 points in those games; seven goals and five assists.

The games have also allowed him to travel, including going to New York a few times at the start of the year.

‘There’s a lot of fans’

McKitrick guesses he’s the only — or at least among the rare few — Inuk in Biloxi.

He says fans come to watch and support him and his teammates.

“We sign autographs and chat with them … they’re really excited to see hockey back here,” he says, referring to COVID-19 shut downs.

But, he says he often has to explain what and where exactly Nunavut is.

“At the start, they didn’t even know that Nunavut existed, a lot of the people here,” McKitrick says.

“There’s a couple of fans that knew and they came up to me and they asked me about Nunavut. And what’s it like,” he says.

McKitrick doesn’t shy away from people’s questions though. He says he enjoys talking to fans and he tells them about the goings on in Coral Harbour and his stories of hunting and fishing.

McKitrick gets just four days off of hockey over Christmas, so he plans to stay in Biloxi over the holidays.

He says it’s been his dream since he was little to play in a professional league, and now he’s finally living it. An added bonus, he says, is the fact he gets paid to do it.

“I always love hockey. Growing up, [it’s] all I really wanted to do and now I get to do it … it’s just been awesome,” McKitrick says. 

“There’s a lot of fans out there. Like, I’ve always dreamed of this.”

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.