WELLINGTON: Ryan Huestis is looking to make the most of the opportunity he’s been given to crack the roster of the Saint John Sea Dogs.
Huestis was invited to the Sea Dogs training camp being held in August. He will compete for one of two spots on the squad’s roster against at least four other goaltenders with the same aspirations as him—making the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
It won’t be the Wellington native’s first taste of QMJHL hockey, after having an impressive camp with the Halifax Mooseheads last year, and even getting into a couple regular season games as a call-up. However, he never saw ice time.
The 19-year-old feels with one camp under his belt, he’s ready to show why he deserves a spot.
“Getting an opportunity like this… you don’t get them all the time,” said Huestis in a July 20 interview. “It’s nice to have something like this being from a small community.”
He said his family and friends have been pushing him extra hard this summer in training, something he has had to juggle being employed full-time but is making it work. Bobby Pederson of Pro Edge Hockey has been training him.
Huestis said he was contacted by former NHLer Darrell Young, who is the General Manager of the Sea Dogs. He had wanted him to go to the team’s camp last year, but the Mooseheads were closer to home and so he chose them. This time, he has more experience after a year of playing with the Valley Wildcats of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League.
“He said he wanted me to come to camp,” said Huestis. “I know what I’m getting into this time so I’m looking forward to it.”
He said his experience with the Mooseheads was great, including a couple of road trips with the team. One of the trips included a journey to Saint John.
Huestis, listed as six foot, 171 pounds on the Wildcats website, has no qualms about living away from home either.
“I’m used to doing that and I’m ready for it if given the opportunity,” he said.
He knows making the team won’t be an easy task. He will have to battle hard to impress the coaching staff and show them that he deserves a spot.
“I just have to give it my all,” he said. “Being 19, I have two years left really, it’ll be tough to make it. You just have to play your game, you can’t let anything get to you. You just have to be yourself.”
If he doesn’t make the cut with the Sea Dogs, he has the option to return to the Valley Wildcats and look to help them to the KENT Cup championship.
But his first priority is the QMJHL.
“If I did make Saint John, it would mean a lot, it would prove all the hard work I did was worth it,” said Huestis. “Most people don’t get a second crack, they only get one. So for me to get this second one, I’m going to try to take in everything I can and make the most of it.”