How far has youth hockey come in North Carolina? Look no further than the Carolina Hurricanes’ Prospects Development camp roster.
Of the 20-some prospects who descended upon Raleigh for a week of off- and on-ice training, three were former Jr. Hurricanes products: defenseman Josh Wesley, forward Bryan Moore and goaltender Logan Halladay.
Wesley, 18, became North Carolina’s first homegrown player to be drafted into the NHL when the Canes selected him 96th overall just a month ago.
“It’s a milestone for the Jr. Hurricanes organization. What they’ve been putting into it, they try to get guys off to the next level,” he said. “It’s huge because a lot of guys are training hard to get where we are now.”
The Canes’ development camp marked the 20-year-old Moore’s second such camp in under a month, as he was an invitee for the New York Rangers just a couple weeks prior.
“It shows that anybody can really do it. You just have to have the dedication, hard work and desire to push yourself and go as far as you can,” Moore said. “We have three guys here, all of us from here, and that shows you right there that anybody can do it.”
Halladay, who was in Philadelphia as a first-year draft-eligible prospect, is committed to the University of Minnesota for the fall. Last week provided him a glance at some of the competition he may face at that level.
“The whole thing is awesome. Obviously the Draft didn’t go as well as I had hoped, but I’m extremely grateful to come to an NHL development camp, especially in my hometown,” he said. “It’s a huge honor to be here. It’s nice staying home.”
For this trio, the opportunity to walk into the same facility, dress in the same locker room and skate on the same ice as the professional team that they grew up watching was a memorable moment years in the making.
“It’s pretty cool,” Halladay said. “I grew up here, obviously, so I watched them win the Cup, and I watched the organization grow.”
“It’s been a dream for me just to even be here and be in the locker room,” Moore said. “I grew up watching them and grew up as a huge fan, so it’s a privilege for me to be here.”
“It was pretty cool just walking to the rink. I don’t think I’ve had that big of chills before, that I’m actually part of the organization now,” Wesley said. “I was a fan before, and now I’m here dressing in the locker room. This whole experience was just so surreal for me.”
They won’t be the last local products to take that next step in realizing their dream of playing professional hockey, as youth hockey in North Carolina and the Jr. Hurricanes program continue to grow.
“They’re pushing kids to the next level,” Moore said. “They’re building them to make them the best they can be.”
“It’s all been successful because of the coaching staff, managers and everyone who has run the organization. I’ve been extremely grateful to have the great coaches, managers and staff we have. That kind of set the ground for the organization, and then we’ve taken off from there,” Halladay said. “We’ve had a lot of good players come out of the program. They focus on developing the players and moving them on to the next level. It’s been huge in a lot of people’s success, especially mine.”
As development camp drew to a close, Wesley, Halladay and Moore scattered back across the area. Wesley will travel with the Canes to Traverse City, Michigan, for the annual prospects tournament. Halladay will attend college. It might be more of a waiting game for Moore, who could be signed as a free agent by the Rangers, Hurricanes or any other club, or could opt to return to play an overage season in the OHL.
Last week was certainly noteworthy in that three former Jr. Hurricanes products attended an NHL development camp in their home state. But it won’t be unique; it’s an enduring trend.
“We’ve grown a lot, both in the Jr. Hurricanes organization and around the Triangle,” Halladay said. “With the amount of time that everybody puts into it and the dedication we show, it can only go up from here. The sky is the limit for this organization. It’s going to be awesome to see what they can do in the future.”