HUMBOLDT — Karter McNarland is not afraid of tough competition.
The 16-year-old Humboldt Broncos rookie competed with 44 of the best 19-and-under players from Canada’s five western hockey leagues for a spot on Team Canada West at the squad’s Calgary selection camp Dec. 1 to 3.
Although the Saskatoon product did not earn a roster spot for the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, which pits two Canadian teams against international competition in Dawson Creek Dec. 7 to 15, he was pleased with the experience.
“What I enjoyed most about it was being able to compete and play alongside the best Junior A players in western Canada,” he said. “I just thought that was really fun.”
The 5-foot-11, 165-pound centreman believes the selection camp process will benefit him and the Broncos.
“I feel like this experience can help me because while I was there, I learned so many new things from the coaching staff and the players, so I am going to try to implement these things in my game playing for the Broncos,” he said.
McNarland and Melville’s Nic Porterfield were the only Saskatchewan Junior Hockey players invited to try out for Team Canada West. The SJHL is represented at the event by Broncos head coach Scott Barney, who is serving as a Team Canada West assistant. Prince Albert product Owen Ozar, who plays for Trail in the British Columbia Hockey League, cracked the roster.
Just being invited to try out for the prestigious event is another highlight of what has already been a strong rookie season for McNarland. As of Sunday, he was tied with Tristan Shewchuk for second on the Broncos with 25 points. Logan Foster led the way with 35.
“He has played exceptionally well for us,” Barney said of McNarland. “He plays in all situations for us. He plays a crucial role in our offence. He has done a tremendous job for us. Hopefully, it is a long career here for him as a Bronco and we can continue to develop him going forward.”
Just getting on the ice often in the SJHL as a 16-year-old is rare. Playing 20 or more games as a 16-year-old is not very common. McNarland and fellow Broncos 16-year-old newcomer Noah Barlage, a Humboldt hometown product, have played in 32 and 27 respectively. Former Broncos defenceman Chase Lacombe also accomplished that before playing for the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos this season. As of Sunday, McNarland, who has six goals, was ranked second among SJHL rookies in points.
“I think what has helped me contribute in this league is all the hours I have dedicated to hockey, especially over the last couple years,” he said.
McNarland is greatly enjoying his time in Humboldt. He billets with the Warford family.
“I am extremely thankful for all they do for me,” he said.
He is also pleased to be able to be in a place where he can continue to develop his game.
“The best part of playing for the Broncos is being able to play against older people, which is way more of a challenge than playing against people your own age, and also practice everyday,” McNarland said.