A knock on the door

Bay Roberts teen read­ies him­self for the next step

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NICHOLAS MERCER TC MEDIA nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Bay Roberts’ David Hibbs was sit­ting in the dress­ing room at MacLauch­lan Arena when a knock came at the door.

He was at the At­lantic Hockey Show­case in Char­lot­te­town, P.E.I. in late June, and didn’t ex­actly re­al­ize what was go­ing on at first.

“I didn’t think it was for me. I didn’t hear them call out or any­thing,” said David. “One of the boys sat down and said, ‘ Hibbs, that’s you.’ So, I went out and shook their hands.”

On the other end of the hand­shake were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from New­bridge Academy, a prep school in Lower Sackville, N.S., and what they brought was an in­ter­est in the 15-year-old 6’1”, 175-pound right winger.

If the New­bridge name sounds fa­mil­iar to New­found­land hockey fans, it’s prob­a­bly be­cause it’s the same prep school that Mount Pearl goal­tender Evan Fitz­patrick at­tended prior to mov­ing to the Sher­brooke Pheonix of the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League. Fitz­patrick heard his name called in the sec­ond round of the 2016 NHL En­try Draft by the St. Louis Blues.

That in­ter­est turned into an of­fer from the high pro­file school. They knew they wanted David and they wasted lit­tle time mak­ing their pres­ence known.

Af­ter the ini­tial meet­ing out by the door, the school con­tin­ued to pur­sue David and his fam­ily over the rest of the show­case.

“That was ex­cit­ing. I didn’t think that was go­ing to hap­pen,” said David. “I went up just to see what it was go­ing to be like and it turn out a lot bet­ter than I was ex­pect­ing.” Nei­ther were his par­ents. “As a par­ent, you think your child is good. Every­body thinks their child is re­ally good, but hon­estly you’re not think­ing you’ll go to show­case and some- body is go­ing to pick him up or ask him to go away to school and play for them,” said fa­ther Ai­den. “You’re kind of think­ing, ‘Well, we’ll go, learn some things about it and he’ll go come home and he’ll play ma­jor midget and life will go on.’”

In early Au­gust, they made the de­ci­sion to ac­cept the of­fer and give it a go.

At New­bridge, David will suit up reg­u­larly with the un­der-16 squad and will be given ev­ery chance to get a con­sis­tent game with the un­der-18 team. That doesn’t in­clude tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing the Hal­i­fax Ice Jam and the pos­si­bil­ity of play­ing the Tri Pen Osprey. “I’m ex­cited for it,” he said. A whirl­wind Look­ing at the time­line from re­ceiv­ing the of­fer from New­bridge to de­cid­ing to at­tend the school just over a month later, there was not a whole lot of time to breathe.

“As par­ents, we’re bro­ken hearted but we’re ex­cited too,” said Ai­den. “We’re just over the moon … and ner­vous and all the rest. We’ll make ev­ery ef­fort to travel a cou­ple of times through the year so that we see him. As it maps out, we’ll prob­a­bly see him ev­ery month.”

Ai­den, Lau­rie and the rest of the fam­ily did some re­search into New­bridge and what it could of­fer David both ath­let­i­cally and aca­dem­i­cally.

“They’re a youth­ful school. There’s a lot of en­ergy,” said Ai­den. “I think what seals the deal with us is the in­ter­est they have in David as an in­di­vid­ual, and not just for hockey, but the school side of it too. They seem to be big on aca­demics and that’s im­por­tant to us.”

A big body

Stand­ing, there isn’t any­thing small about David.

Some­times, it can take play­ers a lit­tle longer to learn how best to use their phys­i­cal at­tributes. Judg­ing by his sea­son with the Ice, David has it fig­ured out al­ready.

The pro­to­typ­i­cal power for­ward, the young­ster knows how to use his big frame to pro­tect the puck and get where he wants to go on the ice. Watch him long enough and you’ll see flashes of NHLer Corey Perry.

The way David op­er­ates in the cor­ners and around the net are all rem­i­nis­cent of the Ana­heim Ducks star. Throw in a good set of hands along with a bomb of a shot and he’s a for­mi­da­ble cover for any player.

For the Tri Pen AAA ban­tam Ice last sea­son, he posted 29 points (18G, 11A) in just 26 reg­u­lar sea­son games. He added three goals in four play­off games.

“I’m phys­i­cal. In the cor­ners, I like to bat­tle it out and make some space for my­self,” said David. “I like to put the puck in the net and pro­duce some points for the team.”

Im­proved skat­ing

If you had to knock David for one part of his game it’d be his skat­ing.

I’m most look­ing for­ward to de­vel­op­ing and just get­ting bet­ter. David Hibbs

He’s not the smoothest player out there, but when you’re as skilled as David is you can make up for any de­fi­cien­cies in your game.

Still, he’s only en­ter­ing his first year of midget hockey and should be able to smooth things out through work with his coaches in Nova Sco­tia.

It’s some­thing he’s look­ing for­ward to get­ting bet­ter at dur­ing his time at New­bridge.

“I’m most look­ing for­ward to de­vel­op­ing and just get­ting bet­ter,” said David. “I’d like to get faster in my skat­ing. Not just faster, but smoother.”

For young hockey play­ers, you work hard to get no­ticed and then you have to work even harder to get an of­fer.

David knows get­ting to New- bridge is only the first step. The next step starts as soon as he steps on the ice at the Sackville Sports Arena for his first team work­out this week.

“The hard work starts now,” said David. “I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting started.”

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

n this Com­pass file photo, David Hibbs breaks through the de­fence dur­ing pro­vin­cial AAA ban­tam league ac­tion ear­lier this year.

NICHOLAS MERCER/TC MEDIA

Bay Roberts teenager David Hibbs is headed for New­bridge Academy in Lower Sackville, N.S., for prep school.

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