If you grew up playing organized hockey, chances are you would dream about hearing your name called at the NHL Draft. For Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Alexis Gravel, that dream became a reality this past summer; he was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round, 162nd overall, of the 2018 NHL Draft.
The excitement didn’t end there, as Gravel had the opportunity to attend the Blackhawks training camp in September. For Gravel, the experience allowed him to see how the pros operate.
“It was a really good experience.” said Gravel. “I mean seeing the pros for real for the first time you get big highs, but as you go along you try to just do your thing and get better.”
Attending Blackhawks camp put the netminder from Asbestos, Quebec on the ice with some of the biggest names in the NHL, including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and fellow netminder Corey Crawford. Gravel said watching them work gave him an understanding of the things he’d need to do to be successful.
“You just look at them and you can learn from that.” said Gravel. “You can see that they treat their bodies extremely well, they eat well, they stay hydrated. They cover all the details and show why they’re pros.”
“Even the big names like Jonathan Toews and those guys, they keep working really hard and taking it seriously even if they don’t have to. That’s why they’re pros, that’s why they’re making $10 million a year.”
The Mooseheads sent seven players to NHL training camps this September. One of them, defenseman Jake Ryczek, joined Gravel in Chicago. Ryczek was drafted by Chicago in the seventh round, 203rd overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft. Gravel said it helped having Ryczek, amongst other friends, at camp alongside him, especially those who were familiar with the process.
“It’s good to have friends also at the camp. I also had Alexandre Fortin (AHL’s Rockford IceHogs) and Nicolas Beaudin (Drummondville) that I knew. It’s good to have people that you know so that you’re not lost.”
When asked about his personal goals at the end of the year, Gravel was blunt with his answer: he simply wants to win.
“I want the President’s Cup and the Memorial Cup.”Gravel said “I want to get better, I want to be a better goaltender, and I want two rings on my fingers at the end of the year.”
Catch Alexis Gravel in action tonight as the Halifax Mooseheads visit your Charlottetown Islanders. Tickets are available at the Eastlink Centre box office. If you’re a student, tonight is Student Night, meaning student tickets are just $3!