Prospects earn their spot on Attack roster

Sam Sedley (left) Dale DeGray (centre) and Nick Chenard (right) pose for a photo after DeGray told the pair of prospects they made the Owen Sound Attack out of training camp. Attack Hockey photo.

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Trust is a tricky thing.

Nick Chenard didn’t know who to believe. The 17-year-old goaltender was nervously pacing around the bowels of the Bayshore waiting to find out if he had made the team.

It’s the same place he stood a year earlier when the six-foot-three Tecumseh native was told by Attack general manager Dale DeGray he was “knocking at the door,” but didn’t make the squad.

Now he waited to knock on DeGray’s door again.

It’s a gut-wrenching scene. The prospects huddled together in a hallway waiting to find out if they have been cut – often for the first time in their lives – while the veterans start to move their Attack-branded hockey bags into the Attack-branded locker room.

Daylon Groulx and Sergey Popov told Chenard as he waited that they saw a stall in the hallowed room with his name on it. They congratulated him.

“I didn’t believe it,” Chenard said after practice Wednesday. “I didn’t think it was real.”

He thought maybe the veterans were messing with him. There were already two goalies on the team.

Fellow rookie Sam Sedley waited too, but he wasn’t nervous. Confidence is one of the traits scouts like about the defender’s game, and he had it in spades that night. His agent called him the night before and told him the team wanted him to stick around. A call from assistant coach Joey Hishon sealed it.

So he took the opportunity to mess with the visibly shook Chenard, telling the goaltender he’ll peek inside the room and see if a stall was indeed waiting.

Chenard wasn’t having it.

“Sam, I don’t want to know, and if you do I will literally never talk to you again,” he said. “And now we’re billeting together.”

Chenard, a sixth-round pick in 2018, and Sedley, the Attack’s fourth-round pick this past summer, were the only two rookies who entered camp unsigned to officially make the team that night.

They had achieved the dream before the dream.

“It was just a dream come true really. I knew they were high on me coming into camp and I knew I just had to play my game to hopefully crack the squad,” Sedley said.

“Getting into the room and seeing my name on the stall really put things into perspective,” echoed Chenard.

After getting cut in 2018 Chenard went back home. A home he happens to share with Ontario Hockey League legend and Vancouver Canucks prospect Mikey DiPietro.

DiPietro told him that he used getting cut from the Canadian world junior team as motivation. He even put an alert on his phone that read “got cut” and used it to remind himself of the feeling. Chenard programmed his calendar app as well.

“For me, it was the same thing. I got cut from here and had to go play midget major, but I obviously turned some heads there and it’s been good,” he said.

The nervous agony has turned into anticipation for the rookies as they prepare for their first Ontario Hockey League season.

Chenard spoke about the importance of staying balanced throughout the year.

“Staying on top of everything mental-health wise. It’s huge for goalies. Emotions can kind of take over. I think that’s a big part,” he said.

He said he gives himself 10 to 20 seconds after allowing a goal, whether in practice, a drill, or a game, to go over the play and ask himself what he could have done differently before trying to wipe it completely from his mind.

Sedley employs a similar mindset after making a mistake.

“I try not to think about it. There’s nothing you can do. It’s over,” he said.

Most hockey players who enter an OHL camp have never been cut. Never been scratched. Sedley knows he may experience some trying times as the Attack’s youngest d-man early in the season.

“Even if I do get scratched I’ll watch and learn a few things from the older guys,” he said. “There’s going to be some adversity . . .  I just have to work hard, play my game, and make them think they can’t scratch me anymore.”

Patience is another part of Sedley’s game scouts and coaches pointed to following his selection by the Attack.

“I’m confident with the puck. I trust my abilities. I don’t really know how I got it . . . patience has always been a big part of my game,” he said.

When Chenard exited DeGray’s office he got emotional, and like any good teammate and billet brother Sedley was there.

“I came out crying and (Sedley) started laughing at me,” Chenard said with a smirk.