Ask almost any young, dedicated hockey player, and you’ll find most dream of someday playing in the NHL. Local hockey standout Cody Drover isn’t there quite yet, but he just got himself one step closer to his dream.
Drover has been playing hockey since he was three, most recently you can find him playing with the AAA IcePak and his high school hockey team, the Exploits Valley High Eagles.
Last week, the IcePak returned from the annual Monctonian tournament in Moncton, N.B., where scouts really took notice of the talented young player during a game against a team from Nova Scotia.
A scout from the QMJHL team the Moncton Wildcats approached Drover’s coach after the first period of the game and told him they wanted to sign him to the team. According to Drover, each team in the QMJHL has five wild card players they can sign throughout the season.
“(My coach) didn’t tell me right away, he wanted to keep it for later,” said Drover. “But the team wasn’t playing the best so he wanted to use it for motivation. He actually told me during the intermission.”
Drover said he was shocked and ecstatic with the news – and the motivation worked; the team went on to tie the game.
The Grand Falls-Windsor youth said he was disappointed when the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) had its draft period this spring and he wasn’t picked. He said he’s exited to have been given a chance to play with a QMJHL team.
Now that Drover is signed to the Wildcats, they can call on him any time to play, but he must go to Moncton to try out next spring if he wants to make the team. But, he said, he’s pretty confident.
“They said they expect me to make the team next year,” he said with a smile.
For Drover, this is the single biggest step of his hockey career. Many players from the QMJHL have gone on to play in the NHL – which is something he said was his ultimate dream. He said he really started realizing he might have a chance of someday fulfilling his dream when he was presented with the MVP award for his AAA league last season.
Drover said he couldn’t be happier with the team that selected him.
“In my opinion they’re the best team in the league to be a part of. The last three years I’ve done a tour of the dressing room and my team has found out what they’ve been like and they’re just awesome,” said Drover. “The city loves them, they’re really respected, they have an awesome facility, and a great coaching staff.”
Drover added that the coaching staff of the Wildcats used to play on the Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.
Now that he’s been signed, the hard part has just started for Drover. The Grade 12 student already has a lot on his plate, preparing to graduate high school, applying for universities where he wants to study physical education, and playing hockey seven days a week on two different teams. Now he must add a rigorous workout schedule to the mix to ensure his best shot at making the team.
“I gotta start working out a lot more. I was talking to one of the coaches who said some of the players work out four hours a day,” said Drover. “They work out more in one day than I have recently in the past week.”
Once the team sends him a schedule, he’ll have to start training close to ten hours a week.
Drover said he’s been overwhelmed by all the congratulations and words of encouragement he’s received since the news started circulating. He said he owes a lot of his success to the coaches that helped him develop as a player throughout the years.
“All my coaches have been really awesome working with me. My triple A coach Corey has been awesome, Gary Jewer my high school coach, has been great, obviously,” said Drover. “The most influential would have to be Terry Goulding.”
Drover said Goulding taught him all up through minor hockey until Grade 9 and has still been supportive in recent years.
“He taught me how to skate really. He’s been always on the ice with me teaching me new things, and he helped me see the ice a lot better.”
Drover said he knows he has a busy few months ahead of him, but in the end, it’ll be worth the effort.
“I grew up playing hockey and I’ve always dreamed of playing in a league like the (QMJHL),” he said. “They have lot of fans watching, people buying your jerseys...it’s unbelievable the fan support they get in that league.”