Matt Sartoris, right, is shown during the Weeks Major Midgets home game Nov. 3 against the Cole Harbour Wolfpack. On Tuesday he was named as one of 96 skaters invited to the Hockey Canada U-17 development camp.
MCLELLANS MOUNTAIN – The initial excitement is starting to wear off – Matt Sartoris is focused on getting to work.
The 16-year-old from McLellans Mountain was drafted by the Gatineau Olympiques 12th overall at the QMJHL draft on May 31, but most recently was invited to Hockey Canada’s Under-17 development camp.
“The last few couple of weeks have probably been the best of my life so far for my hockey career,” the 6’5 Weeks Major Midgets’ defenceman said. “To be drafted by Gatineau in the first round and have all the opportunities to go up on stage, meets lots of people and try on new gear has been pretty amazing.
“Getting the invite to the U-17 camp will also be a great opportunity and I’m proud to be able to represent Nova Scotia at Pictou County as one of only six players from the province.”
Sartoris said he received the call from Hockey Canada a few days ago, which was a slight shock to him with no more Team Atlantic at the U-17 level. He expected it would be tough just to get an invite.
“It’s nice and all to be drafted and get opportunities to go to camps, but truthfully I’ll be happier when I make the teams,” he said about the opportunity. “There is still a lot of work you have to do to get ready. You have to amp up your training and put in a lot of work to be able to make teams like this, so I’ll be starting to put in extra time in the next few months to be as ready as I can be.”
With his goal and focus now on making the Olympiques come August, Sartoris said the fact he was drafted is now just a moment – albeit an amazing one. He said he will always remember that day, but echoed his statement of it not meaning as much as being able to make the team.
When Gatineau stepped up to make their second selection of the first round, 12th overall, he said he had no expectation that his name would be called. On the CSR list he was expected to go in the fourth round. That didn’t keep him from hoping though.
“I was sitting there thinking about possibly going in the first round because all the first-rounders had to get up and say something,” he said. “I was just thinking about what to say when my name was called. Nobody knew that was going to happen. I hugged my mom and dad and went to the stage. When I got there I just smiled as big as I could (for the photo), which wasn’t too hard to do.”
His name being called was the first time he knew Gatineau had any serious interest in him, although he said he did talk to them at the QMJHL Excellence Challenge in Boisbriand, Que., in early May.
“I talked to them for maybe 10 minutes at the QMJHL Challenge, but didn’t think too much of it,” said Sartoris. “It was just a regular conversation that you have with any team. I just told them what I would bring to their team. They must’ve liked what I had to say because I didn’t talk to them again until after they drafted me.”
Family and friends are all excited for him and the opportunities that have come his way recently, especially the chance to play in Gatineau. He said it’s a central location, has a good history and New Glasgow’s Colin White played there.
“It’s exciting and they’re a great organization, so I’m looking forward to getting there for camp,” said Sartoris. “I would just like to thank all my coaches and trainers that have ever helped me because they’re the reason I’m where I’m at today.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris