One of the hardest decisions a young man at 17 has to make is to leave his community, family and friends, to pursue a dream of playing hockey.
For 17-year-old Martin Lavallee the opportunity to advance to the next level was more then he could imagine.
Lavallee, drafted third, in the first round headed to Ontario to play for the Cumberland Grads in the CJHL (Canadian Jr Hockey League), playing junior A.
Lavallee says he was playing in P.E.I. when he was approached and asked if he would like to try-out for the Grads back in Ontario.
“I met with the coaching staff and liked what they had to say, so in September I went to Cumberland to take a look at their hockey program and meet some of the players and staff,” he said.
Once he arrived in Cumberland, he says he liked the people and the hockey was a bigger step from what he was use to in Goose Bay.
Lavallee says being 16 and leaving home to play hockey was not as hard a transition as he thought it would be.
“The only thing I really miss is home cooking and my friends,” he said.
“Last year my son left home at 16, I wanted him to get more opportunities for himself, I felt the opportunity would be better for him in Ontario. He would get more of a chance to better himself in Ontario,” said Deon Lavallee, Martin’s father.
Lavallee, began playing hockey at age 5 as a forward, then at age 15, moved to play defence, a choice that got him noticed as a strong defencive player.
“I moved back to play defence, because I could more of the ice and I became more of a skating defenceman and got a lot better with my puck control,” he said.
Outside of hockey, the younger Lavallee enjoys playing soccer, softball.
“I played almost every sport you could play, while I was in High School, but for me hockey is the best, it is Canada’s sport,” he added.
Lavallee says he would like to advance his hockey career and play in the United States with an NCAA school and continue his education, to hopefully become a doctor.
“I want to go to the states to have my education paid for, playing for a Division 1 team,” he said.
“I am not saying that the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport), is not as good, I went a game at University of Ottawa, where maybe 500 people came out, compared to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York where the atmosphere there was unreal, you have a band playing in the background, a packed house with over 4,000 people,” he said.
Lavallee says he played Midget here in Goose Bay about two years ago for the Huskies, a team that was put back together, after a 5-year absence.
“We had a huge home crowd here, about 500 people, but the caliber of hockey between here and Ontario is different, it is much better out there (Ontario) than here,” he said.
Lavallee says the hockey in Ontario is much faster and the players in Ontario are looking to play in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and he says he has met a lot of players who have been drafted to play in the OHL.
“I know the caliber of my team is much stronger than it was last year and when you play with better players, it makes you improve as a player,” he added.