Sports

Goaltender gets a tryout with under-18 national team

Nick McBride tends goal for the Prince Albert Raiders. - Contributed
Nick McBride tends goal for the Prince Albert Raiders.
— image credit: Contributed

Nick McBride will be one of four goaltenders invited to try out for the national under-18 hockey team.

The Maple Ridge resident is just coming off his rookie campaign with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. Now he will take part in a team selection camp will be held Aug. 2-5 in Calgary.

Of the 44 players who have invited to camp, half will make Team Canada, and compete in the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, Aug. 11-16 in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovkia. It’s a tournament Canada has dominated, winning nine of the past 10, and six in a row, and will be a great hockey experience for the teens who make the squad.

“That would just be a blast,” agreed McBride.

McBride made the under-17 team for B.C. and Alberta, and getting this invite was one of his goals.

“I was hoping for it. It’s something I was working toward.”

That work included a Program of Excellence goaltending camp last weekend, where he was tutored by the likes of former NHL goaltenders Dwayne Roloson, Fred Brathwaite and Sean Burke.

McBride enjoyed their advice, and said he melds it all into a style that is all his own.

“You take little things off everyone, but you need to have your own style,” he said.

“I don’t really have a favourite goalie or someone I pattern myself after. I just love watching hockey.”

As a backup with the Raiders last season, he got into 27 games, posting 12 wins, seven losses, and overtime loss and shootout loss. He had a 2.95 goals against average, and a 0.908 save percentage. So he posted very respectable stats for someone going from minor hockey up to “The Dub.”

“It was fun. It was quite the jump up, but you have guys who help you out,” he said.

“The players are smarter and faster and they’re all better. You have to be able to follow the play.”

McBride played his elite minor hockey for the Burnaby Winter Club, won two straight Western Canadian Championships as a bantam.

He will be up against tough competition to make national the team, each guy with similar pedigree and experience to his own. But says he is used to feeling the pressure to excel.

“There’s pressure every game. You go out there and try your best, and whatever happens happens,” he said.

While donning a red and white Maple Leaf jersey would be great to have on a upcoming prospect’s resume, McBride also heads into the coming season with the opportunity to win the starting job for the Raiders. That is a primary focus this year.

To get ready, he will work with former local trainer Adam Francilia, on goaltending specific exercises. Francilia, who also trains the likes of Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, has moved his business to Kelowna, so McBride will be spending a month there before WHL training camp.

As for the under-18 camp: “It’s a good group of guys going there, and it’s going to be fun.”

 

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