Deer Lake atom goaltender Evan Spence takes part in a house league practice Thursday at the Hodder Memorial Recreation Complex.
©Roxanne Ryland photo
A pair of street hockey goalie pads when he was five years old was probably a sign of what was to come for Evan Spence.
Spence, a nine-year-old Deer Lake native, played two years of minor hockey in the Deer Lake minor hockey setup as a forward, but he always had an interest in being the guy responsible for stopping pucks.
His interest in the position as the last line of defence was influenced by the fact his grandfather, Andy Brake, was a steady goaltender when he was growing up in Corner Brook.
Spence had a chance to strap on the goalie gear on a couple of occasions for practices or games when his team was stuck, and he didn’t find it too bad. But then this season his chance to take the crease was presented to him when the coaching staff in the atom division asked for volunteers.
He is now the goalie for the Deer Lake atom all-star team and enjoying the game. Only a year ago, his parents, Nadine and Steven, experienced times when they felt like they were driving their son out the door to attend hockey, and his interest seemed to be waning.
But a bond with his poppy through a game the family loves has turned his outlook around and now he’s committed to a role that a team depends on heavily to compete on a regular basis.
He’s having fun and never puts any pressure on himself, but he admits there were a few times he wondered if he could stick with it for the long haul.
“I was thinking about quitting goalie, but I remembered that my pop did it and I wanted to pass it on through the family,” Evan said.
His pop takes him to hockey when his schedule permits and they have a meal together before hockey for quality time when they can, and Evan has asked for and received some advice to help him along.
“When you win everybody else is the hero and when you lose you’re the bad guy,” Brake said of the advice he shared with his grandson.
His parents also made sure he knew how important it was for the goalie to be committed to attending all practices and games because the role is so critical to the team and there is a certain amount of pressure that comes with the territory.
His parents are thankful of the bond that continues to grow through a common thread, so they plan to continue showing support for Evan.
Evan hasn’t left any doubt that he wants to be a goalie for the long haul. It’s something he lives and breathes, and nobody has to drive him out the door anymore.
When he’s not on the ice taking shots, he can be found in his basement working on his game, with anyone from his mom to his buddy next door firing at him.
Poppy Brake is happy to see how goaltending has brought another level of excitement to the life of his little buddy.
“It does my heart good to see him playing in goal as I did in the past, and it’s wonderful to see that he’s improving every time he’s on the ice,” he said.