Aaron Mercer speaks with conviction when talking about his rookie season with the Boston Bandits.
The Pasadena native, who celebrated his 17th birthday on Wednesday, just wrapped up his first season in the crease with the United States Premier Hockey League team.
“It was great. I had a lot of fun. It was an unforgettable season, for sure,” Mercer said earlier this week.
Mercer opted to join the Bandits as part of his journey to finding a college hockey gig in the United States.
He went there to play the game at a higher level against some dandy players to see where he stacks up and it appears he couldn’t have picked a finer place to hone his skills.
The season ended abruptly with the Bandits losing 10-4 to the top-seed Boston Junior Bruins, but Mercer was a busy puckstopper all season playing 90 per cent of his team’s games so he got lots of rubber fired at him and that’s exactly what he wanted.
His coach pointed out to him early in the season that he needs work on his high glove side and he worked hard to fix it. He felt shooters had a tougher time beating him in that spot as the season went on.
He had high praise for the group of guys he calls teammates. He was impressed with how much character was in the room and how everybody supported each other because they shared a common goal.
Being away from home took a bit of adjustment for him because he could no longer count on his parents to fend for him and he missed friends back home.
However, the billet family that he stays with has been great to him so it has helped him with the transition from the comforts of home to a new world where everybody is a stranger.
“They treat me like one of their own kids. They will do anything for me. They are just awesome,” he said.
He has every intention of returning to the Bandits in the fall. His goal for next season is to earn a spot on the Bandits entry in the Junior A bracket with a better glove hand in his arsenal.