FALL RIVER: Being drafted into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is just the first step for two Fall River and Beaver Bank hockey players in their quest to continue playing the sport they love.
Nolan Boyd of Fall River, a goalie with the Steele Subarus, and Beaver Bank offensive spark-plug Ryan Francis, who lit the lamp quite a bit in his rookie season with Cole Harbour, both heard their names called during the QMJHL’s annual draft, held June 3 at Harbour Station in Saint John, N.B.
Francis went in the second round to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles—earlier than the fourth round ranking QMJHL Central Scouting had him listed at—while Boyd was picked in the sixth round by the Charlottetown Islanders.
“It was a pretty exciting and crazy experience, especially being picked that early,” said Francis. “I was a bit surprised, it was pretty amazing going to Cape Breton, a great organization.
“It’s like your dream growing up.”
He said he has a lot of off-ice work to be done so he can build up strength to hold off the other players.
When he heard his name called he said he “popped” out of his seat right away.
Boyd said he’s really excited about getting to stay close to home.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to go out and show them what I have and hopefully crack their roster,” said Boyd, who is focused on the task ahead. “It means a lot because you look at guys like Daniel Sprong and Matt Welsh, who have been with their organization and it’s really just an honour to be selected by the Islanders.”
He knows he has a lot of work to put in over the summer, but is willing to do that so he can say he is a QMJHL player.
“I have to be faster and quicker,” he said.
Being a Fall River and Beaver Bank products, both Boyd and Francis grew up cheering on the hometown Halifax Mooseheads. Now they both will be—hopefully, one day at least—skating onto the ice at Scotiabank Centre with the opposition.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “Just to be able to come home and be able to play one day in Halifax would be a really special feeling.”
Francis is eager to take part in the Battle of Nova Scotia between the Eagles and Mooseheads.
“Hopefully one day I’ll be able to play in that New Year’s Eve game on day,” he said.
Boyd has been on the ice a couple of times before being drafted with Welsh, another Halifax boy. He models his game after him.
“Obviously, Matty isn’t the biggest goalie so to watch him and how he plays will help my game, seeing how he challenges the shooter and plays the game,” said Boyd.
At the draft, Boyd had to do a double take when his name was called by the Islanders.
“It was just such a surreal feeling. I’ll never forget it.”
The draft is just the first step.
“At the end of the day the draft doesn’t mean nothing, it just matters when you get to camp,” said Boyd. “You have to make the best of your opportunity and leave a good first impression.”