Maple Ridge goalie prospect, Eric Clark, will try to build upon his local success this year when he leaves home to join the JR A Estevan Bruins of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
The 18-year-old hockey player, who recently graduated from Samuel Robertson Technical with straight As, said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s really exciting,” Eric said. “It’s going to be quite a new experience in my life.”
With two years of Pacific Junior Hockey League under his belt with the Ridge Meadows Flames and the North Vancouver Wolf Pack, Eric will have an idea of what to expect, but it will still be a jump in level of competition when he joins the Saskatchewan squad.
”Everyone’s going to be more accurate, and players are going to be fast,” he admits.
“It’s going to be a step up in everything.”
Despite riding high after a successful season that saw him go 17-0 with the Wolf Pack, he is working very hard to prepare for the next level. The young goaltender is putting in two days a week with Maple Ridge fitness trainer, Eric Arksey and another few days a week with goalie coach, Angelo Maggio, in Langley.
Eric said his family deserves a lot of credit for giving him the push he has needed over the years.
“My family’s been really supportive,” he insisted.
“They’ve been driving me to the rink forever and they’re always coming to watch. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
He will be put up with a billet family when he reaches Estevan, Saskatchewan, but will do his best to stay in touch with his mom and dad.
“We’re going to be FaceTiming almost every other night, so they’ll still be with me,” Eric said.
His mom, Laurie, said she’s very pleased for her son.
“He’s put in a lot of hard work,” she said, noting how impressed she is by his ability to be well-rounded with sports and academics.
“I’m definitely proud of how he’s been able to focus on both of those things which are so important to him.”
While it will be difficult when Clark’s not around, she said she feels her and husband, Tim, have been lucky to be able to have Eric close to home for so long.
“He’s had friends who’ve left their homes to play hockey a long time ago,” she said.
“A lot of kids [Eric’s age] are going away to college now anyways, so he’s old enough now that I feel comfortable having him leave.”
Following his Junior A stint in Saskatchewan, Eric said he would like to take his talents to the U.S.
“I’m hoping to go to the NCAA to play hockey,” he said, “I think it would be really fun and help me go further in life.”