Interview with Drayton Valley Thunder’s Adam Oates

Tyler Fiddler From the Locker Room Leave a Comment

How many times have you been asked if your dad is Hall of Famer Adam Oates?

Adam: Basically, my whole life, whether it be at school or the rink, I’ve always been asked if I was related to him. But the truth is I’m not related to him, and it was just a coincidence that I was named Adam. 

You’ve been advancing in your young hockey career, continuing to prove people wrong. What motivates you to keep getting better?

Adam:  What motivates me to get better is my passion and love for the game of hockey. My mindset is I want to try perfect my skills, whether that is my stickhandling, skating, or conditioning. 

You haven’t had the most traditional path to make it to where you are now. You didn’t play U15 AAA. You weren’t selected in the Bantam Draft. You didn’t play U18 AAA until you were 17. How have you managed to overcome these obstacles?

Adam: Initially, I think it’s a natural instinct to be disappointed and upset after being cut from a team. I would try to brush it off right away and do some self-reflection on my own game. I would try to pinpoint things I needed to work on to keep getting better to reach those higher levels. 

I have never questioned my ability to play hockey. I always knew that I could, and I always think that I can play at the highest levels. The disappointments were part of my learning curve, and I just used those disappointments as motivation to prove to myself that I could play at a high level. 

Last year was your first year playing Jr hockey. What were the biggest differences from U18 AAA to the AJHL?

Adam: The games were much more intense than U18 AAA games, and players competed much harder. For the most part, the end goal for players in the AJHL is to earn an NCAA Division 1 Scholarship. You could feel the intensity and importance of the games.

The travel for road games was different as well. I got to see a lot of cities in Alberta I don’t think I would have seen otherwise. Playing games in smaller towns with full arenas was a fun experience. 

In terms of off the ice, there was an adjustment period. Like every hockey player, I was living with a billet family and learned to adapt to their lifestyle. The adjustment moving to a small town was tough at first as you don’t have all the amenities that you are used to having while living in a large city like Calgary. But once you learn the lifestyle and create a routine, I enjoyed my time in Drayton Valley. 

What clicked for you to reach this elite level? Was there a specific skill that you developed or focussed on to help achieve this level?

Adam:  After my 16-year-old year playing U18 AA, I called my buddy Eric Van Impe, who took power skating lessons, and he set me up with Kelly Askew. I’ve been with him for two years now. From that point on, my game has continued to grow. 

The skill we worked on was my skating. Kelly worked with me on my forward to backward transitions, focussed on getting lower to the ice, and becoming better on my edges. Becoming a better skater has allowed me to have better gap control, take time and space away from opponents, and allowed me to join the rush more effectively. 

Is there a recommendation you would you give for players leaving to play Junior hockey this upcoming season?

Adam:  If I could give one recommendation to players leaving to play junior hockey this upcoming season, it would be to reach out to some of the returning players. Try to get as much information as you can, as it will make your transition much smoother. Ask questions about practice times, workout schedule, or what a typical day looks like for your new team. 

Reflecting on my time preparing to leave for Drayton Valley (AJHL), I think I would have been more proactive on the social side of things. I went into camp, not fully knowing what life as a junior hockey player meant.

 If you could give advice to younger defensemen, what are 1 or 2 skills in your opinion that all young defensemen must become excellent at to reach the next level? 

Adam: Skating is a must for all players, especially for defense, as the pace of the game has increased. Skating is a fundamental skill that allows you to become a better defenseman. Becoming a better skater impacts your gap, your ability to defend, and your ability to create offense. 

I think an underrated skill that might get overlooked is stick positioning. The proper stick positioning allows defensemen to guide opponents where they want them to go. If young players can focus on those two skills it will have a positive impact on their game.

Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.