The number of 15-year-olds playing major junior hockey isn’t that big but it will grow by one in a matter of a few weeks.
Logan Cunningham will make his Western Hockey League debut in early March as he joins the Spokane Chiefs, the team which drafted him in the third round of the WHL Bantam Draft last year. He will hit the ice for games on March 6 against the Red Deer Rebels and the following night versus the Calgary Hitmen.
His debut actually could have happened earlier this season, he said, but he had to turn the team down due to school commitments.
“Now was just the perfect time,” he said. “I’m going to miss a bit of school but I just have to catch up.”
Cunningham plays with Northern Alberta Xtreme (NAX) out of Edmonton and helped the team to victory this past weekend in the Western Canadian Crown Elite Midget Tournament, the second consecutive year NAX has won that event.
He will join the Chiefs on March 4 when they come to Edmonton to play the Oil Kings. He’ll take part in the morning skate with the team but won’t dress for the game barring any major developments prior to game time.
“I’m pretty much only playing if someone gets hurt or if they’re short players,” he said. “I’ll finish school that day and head to the rink to watch the game.”
After that, it’s off on the first WHL road trip of his career and Cunningham said the excitement is there but also the nerves.
“I’m not sure what to expect because it’s mostly to get some experience so I’ll be ready for next time,” he said. “I’ve never played at this level before so it’s going to be a chance to get to know the guys that I might be playing with in the future.”
Cunningham will get a chance to see what the team will be doing when he joins them for that morning skate in Edmonton but he said he wanted to get a primer on just what he should be ready for.
“I asked the coach (Manny Vivieros) about what I should work on,” he said. “He told me to work on the little things, stuff like making simple plays and making the first pass I see. I’m not going out there to be a big shot because I’ll definitely be nervous.”
Cunningham got to experience what major junior hockey was all about when he attended the Chiefs’ training camp last August and he said he was nervous there.
But this time, it’s all about getting used to the surroundings.
“I’m sure it’ll take me a few laps of the ice during warm-ups and a couple of shifts to get over it all,” he said.
March will be a busy month for Cunningham. In addition to his WHL duty, he has the Canadian Sport School Hockey League playoffs in Penticton, B.C., as soon as he’s done and then it’s off to Whitehorse to join Team NT’s midget boys hockey squad at the Arctic Winter Games.
“It’s going to be a tough March,” he said. “I’m playing hockey almost every day right up to the Games and then spring break after that. It’ll be nice to have a bit of a break after all that.”