A year ago this time, Duncan hockey player Lynden Eddy and his family were engrossed in the first season of the APTN TV series Hit The Ice.
Little did he know at the time that he would be featured on the second season.
Hit The Ice brings together 25 young aboriginal hockey prospects under the tutelage of former NHL player and junior hockey coach John Chabot, giving them a taste of what it takes to play at a higher level, including showcase games in front of junior and college scouts.
"We thought it was really cool, like [NHL docu-series] 24/7," Eddy said.
The Eddys learned about the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, and Lynden’s mom found out about tryouts for Team BC in Williams Lake. Eddy made the team, and two weeks later was at the national tournament at the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal. Team BC beat Ontario 4-2 in the final, and Eddy finished as his team’s top scorer, second overall.
"After the game, I was approached by John and the camera crew and they asked me to be part of Hit The Ice," Eddy recalled. "Obviously it was an easy decision to go on. That’s the whole reason it started."
The decision turned out to be the right one, as the Hit The Ice experience was everything the TV series promised.
"It was amazing," Eddy said. "They did such a good job. They treated us so well. It was probably the best experience of my life."
Chabot and the Hit The Ice crew guided the players through on-ice sessions, off-ice workouts, and aide range of team-building activities.
"You’re with them seven days, living in the same building, so it created a good bond," Eddy said. "I still talk to a lot of the guys on Twitter and stuff like that."
The experience also left a mark on Eddy as a player.
"It bettered me as a hockey player," he said. "After that, I think I was at the highest peak I’ve been at in my career." In addition to Chabot, several current NHLers were involved in Hit The Ice, including Jordan Nolan, Grant Clitsome,
Derick Brassard, Pascal Dupuis, Marc Methot, Max Talbot and P.A. Parenteau.
"They weren’t just out there mucking around," Eddy said. "They participated in the drills and pushed us."
Beyond hockey, Hit The Ice gave Eddy a chance to connect with his aboriginal heritage – he is descended from the Iroquois nation – and enjoy it.
"I always knew I was aboriginal, but I never really embraced it until Hit The Ice happened," he said. "Lots of kids have aboriginal heritage, but they don’t want to embrace it. If more people knew about it and embraced it, it can take them down a different path; not just in hockey, but other sports as well."
Eddy has spent the last two seasons playing junior B hockey with the Nanaimo Buccaneers, who are currently facing the Campbell River Storm in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League playoffs.
This season has had some ups and downs for Eddy, who just six weeks ago broke his orbital bone, sinus and upper jaw. He also converted from forward to defence – something that happened in the middle of a game when his team found itself short on blueliners but ended up sticking permanently.
Eddy is hoping to play junior A hockey next year and score a college scholarship.
"Honestly I just want to play at the highest level I can for as long as I can," he said.
Eddy has several role models he can look up to, including some big names from the Olympics. Ted Nolan, Jordan’s dad and the current coach of the Buffalo Sabres, guided Latvia to an impressive eighth-place finish, and one of Canada’s biggest stars was Carey Price. As a Boston Bruins fan, Eddy isn’t supposed to like the Montreal Canadiens netminder, but can’t resist it.
"He’s inspiring," Eddy admitted. "He comes from a small town in northern B.C., and his dad did everything he could to get him to practices. The next thing you know, he’s backstopping Canada to gold."
Eddy will make his screen debut when Hit The Ice kicks off its second season this Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on APTN.