A knock on the door
Bay Roberts teen readies himself for the next step
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.”
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.”
n this Compass file photo, David Hibbs breaks through the defence during provincial AAA bantam league action earlier this year.
Bay Roberts teenager David Hibbs is headed for Newbridge Academy in Lower Sackville, N.S., for prep school.