Chase Pearson hadn’t been expecting a call when USA Hockey’s Jim Johannson dialed him in late August.
That day, Pearson was formally invited to participate in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, a contest featuring the top 42 American prospects eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Surprised and ecstatic, Pearson quickly began to spread the word.
CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS FOR THE GAME
The first person to find out was his father, Scott, who was with his son at the time of the call but was significantly less surprised. He had known for some time about the game and knew furthermore that his son had a shot at being invited, but had kept quiet about the possibility so as to not raise Chase’s expectation. If it was going to happen, Scott thought, it was going to happen.
It did happen, and when Chase takes the First Niagara Center ice on September 25 it will mark the first opportunity for Scott Pearson to watch his son skate in the city he once played in. Scott spent parts of two seasons as a player for the Buffalo Sabres from 1994-96, collecting seven points (6+1) in 41 games.
For father and son alike, the experience will be special.
“Not a lot of people get to experience this and obviously my dad skated where I’m playing now. It’s going to be great, I’m pretty excited for it,” Chase said. “He’s told me that it’s pretty special what I’m doing and that not a lot of kids get to do it so make the most of the opportunity.”
A lifetime of hard work is what earned Chase the opportunity, much of which stemmed from growing up in the same house as a former professional hockey player. While athletes’ children might sometimes miss out on time with their parents due to the demand of their careers, Scott retired while Chase was still young and was able to coach him in minor hockey with the Atlanta Fire.
That advantage, Chase says, didn’t always fall in line with his youthful aspirations. On nights before a tournament, for example, his father might encourage him to stay in and rest rather than go out and play street hockey. It wasn’t what he wanted at the time, sure, but it was what was best.
“He knows what it takes to make it,” Chase said. “Little things like that, he’ll say ‘it’s best for your interest and my best interest to get the rest and it’s going to pay off down the road.’”
The rest has paid off, but so has years of work and dedication by Chase towards perfecting his craft. It was his son’s work ethic that made it apparent to Scott at an early age what kind of potential Chase might have. Three mornings a week, the two would work together before school. Combine that commitment with weeknight practices and weekend games, and Chase’s passion was evident.
Chase had no shortage of examples to follow, either. Whether it was seeing his dad spend time with his good friend Adam Foote or having dinner with other players, Chase has had the benefit of being around professional hockey personalities that have taught him how to behave as a pro.
“Every person is different. With each of the guys, what I find when I meet them is they’re always respectful no matter who they’re talking too, they’re the nicest guys,” Chase said. “There’s never not enough time for anybody. Anyone who plays in the NHL is a special person and the people I’ve been able to meet through my dad, they’re really good people.”
While Chase will be eligible for next year’s NHL Draft, his father expects his son to move slowly in the process towards becoming a professional. He still has two years of high school remaining and will play for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL this season before trying to obtain a scholarship to play college hockey at the D-I level.
But for now, the focus remains on putting forth a strong showing among the nation’s top prospects in Buffalo on September 25. Chase sees the game as an opportunity to show off his skills to NHL scouts and prove to himself that he truly is in the same category as the other great players who have been invited.
His father, meanwhile, will be in the stands, watching as the Pearson name returns to the ice in Buffalo.
“It’s pretty special,” Scott said. “I think it will be pretty humbling to be there, just watching him skate around with your name on the back.”