Luke House stops a shot on goal during a recent practice at the Pepsi Centre. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
CORNER BROOK Luke House is going to need to face a bit of rubber before he gets settled in the crease, but he beams with confidence in his quest to impress.
House, who will celebrate his 15th birthday Oct. 30, is a rookie puckstopper with the Western Kings of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League. He shares the goaltending duties with returnee Ian Woolfrey in a rebuilding season which sees the defending champion Kings (1-4-0-1) in fourth place in the five-team league heading into a two-game showdown against the second-place St. John’s Maple Leafs this weekend at the Pepsi Centre.
“We have the talent, but we’re not performing just yet I think,” House said of the team’s slow start out of the gate.
House is among a handful of Kings rookies trying to find their way in provincial major midget hockey and some of the top guns from the championship team like Neil Woolfrey, Ian Skinner and Chad Jones have moved on to greener pastures after graduating from the program with the championship crown.
“We got a lot of new guys coming together so it’s going to take some time to get used to each other, but when it does come together I think we’ll be OK,” he said.
House is a competitive soul who thrives on stopping pucks to help his team win hockey games, but he admits the jump from bantam to the major midget level has been somewhat challenging in the early going. He’s seeing how much commitment it takes to excel in a program for elite athletes with the practices and long road trips to the east on the weekends while still trying to keep on top of his studies, but he’s finding it easier to keep up the more he gets immersed.
“It’s definitely a faster pace,” he said of what has been the biggest difference in protecting the cage this year.
House is hoping the Kings can come up with a better effort in their own end of the rink this weekend because he feels defence is the key to getting back on the winning track. He’s expected to get the starting assignment in Sunday’s game since he started Saturday night last weekend when the Kings battled the Maple Leafs in a two-game series at the Rogers Bussey Arena in St. John’s.
He may only be in his first year of major midget hockey, but House, son of Corner Brook’s Don and Michelle, makes no bones about his desire to have people notice his goaltending prowess.
“I’m just looking to impress coaches across the province and try to make my mark on Atlantic teams and make some Junior A scouts look at me,” he said.
He has a healthy relationship with fellow puckstopper Woolfrey as coach Kings coach Angus Head has selected to give both goalies some crease time, so he will just try to play his best when called upon and let everything else work itself out.
“I think we’re both pretty good so we’re going to push each other all year,” he said.
He’s up to the challenge of battling for the bulk of the crease time with Woolfrey.
“I just want to be as good, if not better, than the person I am playing with,” he said.
The Kings battle the Maple Leafs Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. at the Pepsi Centre.