For most junior hockey players, once their season is over, they work at a summer job or even start their college career, and most won’t spend too much time on the ice. That won’t be the case for Kindersley’s Ethan Hilbig, who impressed the game enough to represent Saskatchewan at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Membertou, Nova Scotia next May in a tournament for players born in 2004. -2005.
“The assistant coach, he called my dad about two months ago and said there was this camp and they wanted to see me there and so about two months ago we kind of started talking about it and planning the trials and went to the trials this last weekend at Dalmeny.Then the coach called me and told me that I had made the team, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Hilbig, who has mixed-race heritage on his mother’s side of the family, will join six other SJHL players as well as a few other familiar faces he has played with in the past. While there has been some on-ice animosity at times with Matthew Henry of the Battlefords North Stars, for example, Hilbig is happy to put that aside for a tournament and put Saskatchewan’s best foot forward.
“I’m actually really good friends with Matthew, but I’ve played with James Venne and Zackery Somers (both Melfort Mustangs) before, and I’m really, really excited to play with these new guys that I have J Also played with Kade Johns at Warman this year, started the year there and he was around a bit when I was, so not a whole lot, but I know him pretty well now.
Hilbig also played with Rhett Dekowny the year before last season at Swift Current with the AAA Legionaires.
As for what awaits him before he leaves for Nova Scotia, there’s a lot of work to do between now and the start of the tournament on May 7. Besides Johns, the players Hilbig already knows in the squad are already all forwards and a goalkeeper, it might take a bit of time to find that chemistry with another defender for the tournament, but the work to be ready in a month is already well under way.
“I obviously train a lot and then I get on the ice as much as I can, I’ll still be here at Kindersley, but we have training most weekends starting next weekend maybe, and those are right around Saskatoon, so I’m going to do the road lots there too.”
The idea of playing hockey in May in one of the most scenic areas of the country has Hilbig excited for the start of the tournament, but the real excitement comes from improving his game ahead of his next season in the SJHL. Having worked his way through the team when he expected to remain in Midget AAA for another year, his development has already taken a step faster than expected and he is looking to keep that momentum going.
“Yeah, I think I’m still going to play against some good competition and I’m going to meet a bunch of new guys on our team creating new relationships and bonding with different guys.”