Before I was invited to come to Buffalo, I received a weird text from my coach.
Hey, you're going to development camp?
I was like, "No … Should I be?" He told me that's what he heard, so I said I would keep my ears open. A few weeks went by, and … nothing. I assumed it wasn't going to happen.
Then I got the call.
But before we get into that, we have to go back to March of last season. I played for the Flin Flon Bombers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and we were finishing up a four-game road trip in Notre Dame. I scored a goal that night, and afterward I had a scout from the Sabres waiting to talk to me.
It turns out he had originally seen me play the second game of that trip, in Weyburn. Something must have stuck, because he followed us to our next game in Estevan, then to Notre Dame.
Now, there's not a whole lot of exposure in Saskatchewan, so this was different. We talk to college coaches, but not NHL scouts. It was pretty great. You get back on the bus, tell everybody what happened, and everyone cheers you on.
We kept in touch after that, and eventually that call my coach told me about did come.
He asks, "What are you doing next week?"
"Working, hockey, the usual," I said.
"Can you get some time off?"
"I'd like to invite you to development camp."
I was like, "Well, I'll quit my job right now if I get to come down to development camp."
It took me the whole phone call to really process what was happening. Luckily, my job handling bags at the airport was very supportive.
I got here for my physical and it was determined I won't be able to skate this week, which was unfortunate. But just being here has been surreal. I'm watching everything, taking it all in. Everybody knows something - the coaching staff, the training staff. I'm just trying to soak in as much as I can.
Hopefully, I can take what I learn here and apply it next season. I'll be starting my freshman year right up the road at RIT, playing for the Tigers. I want to come in and play to the best of my ability right off the bat.
I'm just hoping to get better while I'm playing college and prepare for whatever happens next.