Andrew Antle was busy digging a hole for fence posts when he got a telephone call that lifted his spirits.
He was busy working outside Saturday when a buddy called to inform him that he was drafted in the second round (1st pick) by the St. Stephen Aces at the 2018 Maritime Junior Hockey League Draft.
Malcolm Genge and Liam Smith, teammates of Antle with the Kings, were the only other two players from western Newfoundland to be drafted this year.
Genge was taken by the Pictou Country Weeks Crushers with the third pick in the sixth round, while Smith could be reunited with Antle this winter after the Aces took him with their 12th pick in the sixth round.
“It feels pretty good to get some recognition,” Antle said of his selection. “It’s hard getting recognition when you’re from Newfoundland so it feels really good to get looked at.”
Antle, a speedy five-foot-10 forward has been in contact with the team and plans on attending training camp in August.
He’s going to work hard over the summer to ensure he’s ready to challenge for a spot on the team.
“It should be pretty cool to see where I stand at the next level of hockey,” Antle said,
Smith followed as the draft unfolded on Twitter, listening patiently with his mom while hanging out at the family cabin.
“It’s pretty cool. I’m excited to go try out for the team. They have a good team,” Smith said.
Smith, a shifty forward who stands at six-foot-three, is eager to see how he stacks up against a pretty deep talent pool he figures stands in his way of earning a spot with the Aces.
“It means a lot to get drafted. I get to try and play hockey at the next level up so that’s always fun,” he said. “I like playing hockey so I’m excited about having another chance at playing a few more years.”
Smith blossomed into a solid two-way forward with the Kings and he believes his time spent with the team served him well. He played with some great players who became great friends away from the rink and had a lot of fun along the way.
“It helped me develop as a person and as a player,” Smith said.
Genge also watched the draft unfold via Twitter with his mom by his side cooking supper.
“I was happy to get drafted,” Genge said of hearing his name called.
Genge plans to attend training camp with hopes of earning a spot and moving away from home.
He believes his size, mobility and keen ability to read the ice as a steady defenceman should be in his favour when it comes to cracking the roster with the Aces.
“I think I should have a decent chance at making the team,” he said. “There’s going to be lots of competition but I think I have a fair shot.”