At Dominate Hockey we talk about how each player’s path is unique to themselves. You got drafted to the NHL out of U18 AAA, which is very uncommon. Talk about that experience.
Kieran: I was paying attention to the draft because I knew my buddy Brayden Tracey, was going to be selected.
During my season, Montreal started communicating with me, and I knew they started paying attention to me after the Mac’s tournament. I ended up attending Montreal’s private off-ice combine. That, in itself, was an excellent experience for me.
I wasn’t expecting to get drafted. I thought the fact I had attended Montreal’s combine was a good step.
On draft day, I was getting ready for work, and I got a call from my advisor saying I got selected by Montreal in the 7th round. I froze, I didn’t know what to say. It was a huge day for my family, but I realize that this is just the beginning.
Have you had time to reflect on your hockey career up to this point? The practices, workouts, tournaments, sacrifices, and how much has gone into making it to this point in your career?
Kieran: Reflecting on things, I started out playing Novice 5, it’s been a long journey since then, but I understand that it’s just the beginning.
Looking back on things, I’ve put in countless hours into making it to this point. I’ve had to make decisions such as not going to high school parties because I had a workout the next day.
I’ve had to focus on eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and attacking my workouts with intensity.
Is there a coach that stands out where they had a significant impact on you as a player?
Kieran: My U18 AAA coach Blair Courchene and U15 coach Tyler Wagner helped me a ton. They saw potential in me right away, and I could tell they genuinely wanted me to succeed. They knew what buttons to push to help me elevate my game.
What went into your decision to return to U18 AAA for your last year versus playing in the AJHL?
Kieran: This was a hard decision to make because I knew how good of a setup Spruce Grove had. But weighing my options of returning to a good hockey program, finishing high school with my friends, and being able to focus on getting good grades was important for my family and me.
I knew if I played my last year U18 AAA, I would receive lots of ice time to develop further, be put into a leadership role, and I could buy myself some time to open up other options on where to play.
It was a big decision for me, but reflecting on things, I think it was the right choice.
You play for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the BCHL. What lead you to choose the BCHL over the AJHL?
Kieran: Leading up to my last year of eligibility in U18 AAA, I was weighing the options of playing in the AJHL or waiting an extra year to see what options opened up in other leagues.
I always heard good things about the BCHL. Great programs, good players, and lots of attention from NCAA schools.
The decision between Spruce Grove and Salmon Arm was probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my hockey career. I chose Salmon Arm because it’s farther away from Calgary, so it would force me to grow up as a person and see how I could handle living away from home.
What appealed to you about the NCAA route?
Kieran: When I was young, I dreamt of playing in the WHL. I grew up watching the Calgary Hitmen. But as I matured as a hockey player, I understand the type of hockey player I am and the route I need to take.
I understood the benefits of the NCAA route, and it would allow me to grow into my body and enable me to develop my game. I want to stick with my process of trying to earn an NCAA scholarship, go to school, earn a college degree, so I do have a backup plan.
You had the opportunity to see Montreal’s facilities and work with their staff. What things did you take away from that experience?
Kieran: It was an unreal experience to see the facilities and how they operate.
I was training with Josh Brook, Cole Fonstad, and Cameron Hillis. I took away how hard other Montreal prospects worked and how they’re wired. I’ve always pushed myself but to see how other elite hockey players train opened my eyes to how much better I need to be.
What type of advice would you give young players as they progress along there hockey careers?
Kieran: My advice would be to trust the process. Each player will create their path, but along the way, understand there will be ups and downs.
If you have the passion, put in the effort, and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, you will give yourself a chance to be successful.
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