At age 15, both Colton Dachwitz and Greyson Reitmeier have embarked on a journey that has taken them out of Nakusp and into the world of midget hockey. This year, both are juniors on the Kootenay Ice Midgets team and are learning both on the ice and off in the Kootenay town of Trail.
Moving to Trail from Nakusp means everything has been taken up a notch in terms of size and pace. Trail’s population is three times the size of Nakusp, just one of the many changes the two faced when they moved. Still, the transition appears to have been taken in stride.
When I asked the two hockey players if they missed their hometown, I could almost hear a shrug over the phone.
“I definitely do, a little bit,” Reitmeier contributed, which was echoed by Dachwitz who added, “friends, and family.”
At this point, the focus is on their life in Trail.
“There’s hockey, school and that’s it. There’s not much time for free time,” said Reitmeier, “It’s definitely a commitment.”
Both Dachwitz and Reitmeier are enjoying their time in Trail. Even school. When asked what they liked, Dachwitz said the school was new and the teachers were good at teaching, and didn’t mind the faster pace there. Reitmeier remarked that the school was very “high tech” and it was easy to make friends.
“The school is way bigger so it was a little bit to get used to,” Reitmeier said “ but after the first week it was no problem and I just fit right in.”
Each grade has “about a hundred students” he said, compared to Nakusp Secondary School’s total of 195 kids, most of whom have known each other since they were little tykes.
Days in Trail are long for the Midgets, who have school until 3:30, and practice three nights a week. Dry land training is an additional hour after practise, ending at 9:30 which makes for a very long day.
But it’s not just the physical stuff that Reitmeier and Dachwitz are learning. Both players note that they’re both learning about “maturity” during their time in Trail. Spending time away from home and on the road, as well as learning how to get along with new team mates and friends has given both young men a new perspective.
“Time flies by, the road trips are actually some of the funnest times I’ve had so far this season,” said Reitmeier.
Their maturity shines through, as both players obviously understand this time in Trail is a huge learning opportunity, whether they win or lose on the ice.
“We’re playing against some of the best kids in B.C., so that really helps as well,” Reitmeier remarked.
The Kootenay Ice Midgets have won one game and tied one, but lost six so far, something Dachwitz attributed to a “lack of focus.”
“We’re not talking about the game,” he said.
But it’s not just a lack of conversational focus; the competition is fierce, and Dachwitz is the first to say the teams they play against are good at what they do.
“Some of them are talented,” he said, and “some [games] we didn’t play well.”
“On Sundays we do really bad for some reason,” he revealed.
“It’s weird,” Reitmeier agreed, “We definitely play better as a team on Saturday nights.
Individually most players did as good as they did before, but as a team, I don’t know what it is, it’s like a Sunday curse or something.”
Perhaps it’s a case of the Sunday sleepies rather than a curse. On Sundays, games are played in the morning, whereas Saturday’s games are played at night.
But that hasn’t stopped Dachwitz, who plays defence, from making his mark and scoring a goal against the Thompson Blazers in their October 15 game. Bobby Orr, a hockey hero to Dachwitz, would be proud.
“He was an offensive defenceman,” Dachwitz explained, when I asked why Bobby Orr was a favorite.
Reitmeier’s hockey hero is Sidney Crosby, who broke a lot of records at a young age.
“I look up to him,” he said, “I have a similar style, more the play-making role than the scoring role or the hitting role.” Crosby also accomplished a lot at a very young age, something that Reitmeier would also like to emulate.
As for his personal goals as a defence player, Dachwitz wants to keep to simple plays, and not to overdo it.
And what are the two players hoping to get out of this time in Trail and with the Kootenay Ice Midgets?
“To have fun, to skate as much as I can, to improve as much as I can,” Reitmeier said, “There’s a good chance I’ll be doing this next year, but there’s also a chance I’d be playing junior, but that’s a way down the road.”
“Get my grades good and high, get noticed,” Dachwitz listed for the next year. Getting into Junior A or B hockey is the next move the young defence player would like to make, but before then both he and Reitmeier will be heading back to Nakusp to spend Christmas with family.
Both guys will be finishing off the year at Nakusp Secondary School, returning to town some time in March after the hockey season has ended. Until then, they’re too busy having a good time learning to miss their hometown too much.