BEAVER BANK: Ryan Francis is officially a Cape Breton Screaming Eagle.
The Beaver Bank product learned his fate in late August that the Eagles were impressed enough with his performance and play during training camp that he made the 2017-2018 roster for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team.
“It was a pretty exciting moment ,” said Francis, 16, during the Labour Day weekend as he visited friends. “It’s really a dream come true to play in the Q.”
Francis said the coaches called him into their room at the hockey rink, and asked him one simple question.
“They asked me if I thought I was ready to play in the Q, and I said ‘yes I am,’” he said. “They then welcomed me to the team.”
The former Lockview High student said the past month leading up to the final decision has been pretty crazy and hectic, from the rookie camp to the main training camp.
“When you get the news, it’s pretty amazing,” said Francis.
The former Cole Harbour Wolfpack sniper was tied for tops as the team’s pre-season leading scorer with three goals and four assists and was a plus-2 in play up to Sept. 9.
Francis said head coach Marc-Andre Dumont hadn’t got to the point of telling him what his role will be on the team just yet. Veteran players have told him to keep working hard in practice and games and he should do fine.
He said the first couple of games he played was an adjustment to the speed of the game.
“Once you get adjusted to that, you can start playing the way you want to,” he said.
From the looks of Social Media and fan websites, it would appear that Francis is already a fan favourite with Cape Breton fans.
“We’ll have to see as the season goes along,” said Francis. “It’s pretty cool to hear that.”
Like any hockey player, he already has some special dates circled on the calendar. The first one for Francis is Oct. 14 when the Eagles visit the Halifax Mooseheads for his first game before family and friends at the Scotiabank Centre.
“The games in Halifax, the first game at home before family and friends that’s definitely circled,” he said. “It’ll be pretty crazy.”
He said making the QMJHL coming from a small community shows others they can do it too.
“I just kept working hard and this is what helped me get to this point so far,” Francis said.
Now the real hard work begins with the drop of the puck on his rookie campaign just around the corner.