Ever since he was picked with the 22nd overall selection by the Prince Albert Raiders during May’s Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, Niall Crocker was counting down the days until he stepped on to the ice at the Art Hauser Centre for the first time.
The 15-year-old forward from Delta, B.C. was able to do just that on Friday as he took part in the team’s training camp.
“I’m excited to be here and I’ve been preparing all summer for this weekend,” Crocker said.
“My goal is to play with some of the top guys here and hopefully go as far as I can in the pre-season before I go back to the Delta Hockey Academy to play for the U16 team. I just want to experience what it’s like to play in the WHL and learn from that before I come back here next season.”
After posting 45 points in 30 games for the Delta Hockey Academy’s Bantam Prep program last year, Crocker found himself in Philadelphia, Penn. during the draft as he was competing at the World Selects Invitational tournament.
“There were a number of us on the BC Selects team that got drafted so we were all keeping an eye on what was going on,” Crocker said. “When I saw Prince Albert was on the clock, I was really hoping that they would pick me. I had talked with them before the draft and it seemed like a really good fit, especially as they said that they really interested in picking me.
“Plus, my mom’s side of the family is from Saskatoon, so it’s nice to have them fairly close by. I’ve been talking to them a lot before I came up here and we had a chance to go up to their cabin before camp started, which was really cool.”
Crocker, who describes himself as a power forward, has been at the gym and on the ice throughout the summer as he looks to improve some of the weaknesses in his game.
“I want to get better with my skating so I’ve spent a lot of time with a couple of coaches back home on that, as skating is so huge at this level,” Crocker said.
“I’ve also been busy at the gym to make sure that I’m getting bigger and stronger. I like to get first on the puck, but if I’m not there quick enough, I want to do whatever I can to get the puck back.”
Following a quartet of scrimmages on Saturday morning and four more in the evening session, the goal scoring totals at the camp are as follows:
- Matt Corbet – 3
- Silas Buijs – 2
- Tyler Dysart – 2
- Tayem Gislason – 2
- Devin Jameson – 2
- Colton Koran – 2
- Logan Linklater – 2
- Adam McNutt – 2
- Justin Nachbaur – 2
- Eric Pearce – 2
- Dallyn Peekeekoot – 2
- Aliaksei Protas – 2
- Dylan Bidyk – 1
- Mackenzie Carson – 1
- Shaw Cathcart – 1
- Cooper Chisholm – 1
- Niall Crocker – 1
- Aidan Doornbos – 1
- Cole Fonstad – 1
- Tre Fouquette – 1
- Evan Herman – 1
- Landon Kosior – 1
- Rhys Maksiomow – 1
- Cole Nagy – 1
- Rylin Nelson – 1
- Brayden Pachal – 1
- Jayden Plamondon – 1
- Porter Pennock – 1
- Eric Robbie – 1
- Liam Rodman – 1
- Guillermo Salazar – 1
- Jack Silverberg – 1
- Dean Spak – 1
- Bryce Warkentine – 1
After a pair of scrimmages at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the rosters will be cut down ahead of the annual Green and White Game, which will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at the Art Hauser Centre.
Saturday’s Pre-Season Scores
- Vancouver 4 Portland 3 (Justin Sourdif Shootout Winner – Brayden Watts – Two Goals)
- Moose Jaw 4 Saskatoon 3 (Eric Alarie Overtime Winner – Two Goals and Two Assists)
- Seattle 4 Tri-City 3 (Jared Davidson – Two Goals)
- Swift Current 5 Regina 4 (Mathew Ward Shootout Winner – Dawson Holt – Two Goals)
- Everett 5 Spokane 3 (Justyn Gurney – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Kamloops 9 Victoria 1 (Logan Stankoven – Three Goals and Two Assists)
Sunday’s Pre-Season Schedule
- Spokane vs. Vancouver – 12:30 p.m. (in Everett)
- Kelowna vs. Kamloops – 3 p.m.
- Portland vs. Tri-City – 4 p.m. (in Everett)
- Seattle vs. Everett – 8 p.m.