Airdrie’s Kurtis Chapman’s dream finally came true Sept. 22 when his name was on the opening night roster of the Kootenay ICE for the 2017-18 season.
The goaltender said he has always had his eyes set on cracking a Western Hockey League (WHL) roster and playing at the highest level of junior hockey in Canada.
“It is amazing to finally accomplish my dreams. Now I’ve just got to keep on pushing forward,” Chapman said. “My confidence was getting shaken while I was being traded everywhere and I didn’t know where I was going.”
The 19-year-old’s path to the WHL was far from easy and included multiple stops across western Canada, but Chapman said his experience from prior seasons has made this moment even sweeter.
Chapman was initially selected by the Regina Pats – 138th overall in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft – and got a few chances to play with the team over the past couple of seasons.
The Airdronian’s time with the Pats organization came to an end Sept. 13 when he was traded to the ICE for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2018.
“I was really excited coming to this organization,” Chapman said. “I wasn’t too sure what was going on in Regina, so I braced myself (for something like this).”
Over the course of the past four seasons, the goaltender spent some of his career at the midget level with the CFR Chemical Bisons in Strathmore and at the Junior A ranks in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba with the Olds Grizzlys, Estevan Bruins and Portage Terriers.
Chapman said a strong showing in Portage helped him gain confidence coming into the WHL pre-season this year.
As a member of the Terriers, Chapman took over the starting reigns in the post-season, helping lead the team to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Championship.
Chapman has yet to start a game with the ICE, serving as backup for the first two games of the season and said he eagerly anticipates his chance to start for his new club and give it a chance at returning to the WHL playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
“I’m going to go out there and prove I deserve to be at this level,” Chapman said.