COLE HARBOUR, N.S. — A year ago, Kyle Petten of Coley’s Point was playing midget hockey in his hometown. Now he’s playing for one of the best teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
And he’s billeted in the hometown of arguably hockey’s best living player.
“He only lives down the street, actually,” Petten said, referring to Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia’s most famous face, Sidney Crosby.
After making the Halifax Mooseheads in training camp, Petten, who turned 17 last month, found himself used primarily in a checking role on the team’s fourth line. That took some getting used to for the left winger, who throughout his career was typically deployed as a first-line forward.
“It’s more of an energy role to just go out there and give the top lines a break,” he explained to the Compass. “Just chip pucks in and (the opponent’s) top players, just wear them down.”
Beyond that, Petten also faced the challenge of playing against players bigger and older than he was used to previously.
“At first it was hard to adjust, because jumping from midget to junior is a big step,” he said. “It took a little while to adjust, but I feel pretty good now.”
Through 51 games as of this past weekend Petten managed to stay in the line up for most of them, appearing in 30.
As a fourth liner, scoring opportunities tend to be limited. It took 14 games for Petten to notch his first career point in the Q-league, but he’s found some success in recent games. He’s found the back of the net twice in his last four games (and earned an assist), resulting in his first goals of the season.
“When I got the first one, you feel like you gain more confidence, and I feel like I can score in this league,” Petten said, adding it felt good to score that first one, despite the fact it came towards the end of a lopsided loss. His second goal was the result of sharing the ice with two of the Mooseheads’ top forwards — Otto Somppi and Maxime Fortier. They’re both property of NHL teams.
Petten’s coach was happy for his first-year player, as he told the Halifax Chronicle Herald at the time.
“Kyle's a kid who comes to the rink every day and works hard,” Mooseheads coach Jim Midgley said. “He's in and out of the lineup but works really hard off the ice and does what he's asked. It's nice to see him get rewarded with his first major junior league goal. It's a big deal for him.”
Living in Nova Scotia hasn’t been a major adjustment for Petten, who also spent time away from Newfoundland two years ago at a prep school in Saskatchewan. His parents, Jason and Carolyn Petten, have been out for a few games this season.
“We go to school all day and practice after school. We probably get home around 6:30 and eat supper, then the day is pretty much gone,” said Petten, who is attending a local high school and plans to finish the year back home at Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts once his season ends.
When that might happen remains to be seen. The Mooseheads currently hold the second-best record in the Quebec league, having won 33 of 51 games played. If the team performs well in the playoffs, Petten could find himself having a shot at playing this May for the Memorial Cup. This year’s tournament is being held in Regina, Saskatchewan.