While most of the Cree hockey fans and players turned into couch potatoes glued to the boob tube, rumours reached The Nation that not everyone was just watching the Stanley Cup finals. No, there was one young lad still going strong.
So like Travis Grant of Waswanipi, Neil and I gave up our weekend for some hockey. We were off to wonderful Laval with its wonderfully half-hidden arenas. Turned out we had that in common with Travis and his family… getting lost in sunny Laval. A couple of wrong turns, plenty of helpful directions from some nice people and we managed to catch up with Travis.
We got a chance to see Travis and his amazing slapshot in action as his team was winning the Laval All Star Challenge 1995 Summer Hockey Tournament. Did I mention his amazing slapshot? It was clocked at 60 miles per hour, making him the fastest slapshot artist in his age group for all of Quebec for 1994/95. He won that distinction in Repentigny this past spring. Even as a novice player, he was clocked at almost 55 MPH.
While Travis spent the winter playing for Chibougamau, this weekend he was playing for the Turcotte Elite team. Did we mention that he won player of the year while playing for Chibougamau? Did we mention this was just one of over 20 trophies on his wall? Did we mention he’s only 10 and playing for the Turcotte Elite Atom AAA team? Well, I think we mentioned the team but not the other stuff.
Back to the team. Turns out that the team is a hockey school team. The name of the school is Turcotte and Travis has been attending it for the last three years. He is one of four Crees to make the team since Crees have started using the school. Travis said the school has taught him “a lot of moves!”
Travis Grant said his being the only Cree on the team made no difference to him or other players. The school itself has been to Chisasibi and Waskaganish. The Triple A Team has won 27 out of the 42 tournaments it has entered into since 1991. Travis was one of the 15 players chosen from 400 tryouts this year.
Travis Grant is one of the kids who are lucky. His father, Jos Saganash, was and still is a great hockey player, who along with his wife supports Travis and his budding hockey career.
An Explosive Mix We got a chance to see the beginnings of that career in action. On a hot, hot, really hot Montreal day running about 31 degrees Celsius Neil and I stepped into the Laval Ouest Arena. Did I mention we were underdressed for such an activity? Travis, though, was dressed for the part and played well. The final score was 5-4 in the Turcotte Elites’ favour. Travis didn’t get a chance to play as much as the team coach would have liked due to an injury as well as his being sick at the time.
Travis saw four goals and four assists in this tournament. We asked him how he felt after winning. He said, “Winning the tournament was fun!” It’s nice to see that underneath all that skill and potential is just another kid having fun.
His games as a player with Chibougamau point to a great year for him. Travis told us this year he had four goals and 31 points while with Chibougamau. I asked him what his best game was overall this year. Travis liked the semi-finals in Montreal when he got three goals and a total of five points in one game.
After the game we talked a bit more, learning that Travis’ favourite team is the Detroit Redwings and his favourite player is Sergei Federov because of his scoring ability. Some day he might be up there with Sergei as a hockey hero in the NHL.
Travis Grant wouldn’t mind that particular career and has the full support of his parents in it. Currently Travis’s parents have to take on the financial costs of these tournaments. The next and last one for the year will be Ottawa. The Nation wishes Travis all the luck in the world.
Sometimes in the communities we give more recognition to older players and forget about the Travis Grants and other kids. This should change because a little community recognition would go a long way toward keeping them on the road to success.
How would we start? Well, as Travis put it when we asked what advice he’d give to newcomers to hockey… “just do it!”
The Turcotte school can be reached at 1-800-565-3433. Sessions start in July.