As his time in the OMHA’s U16 Eastern AAA Hockey League comes to an end, Peterborough Minor Petes defenceman Ben Radley is seeing the exit sign.
“It's definitely starting to hit me," said Radley. "It's crazy how the year flies by and stuff like that."
Radley is looking to enter the Ontario Hockey League draft after this season, having led Petes defencemen with 52 points (17 goals, 35 assists), good for fifth on his dominant 33-1-2 club.
He views himself as an offensive defenceman and models his play after Thomas Chariot of the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche star Cale Makar.
"Watch videos on them all the time," he said. "You want to picture yourself doing those plays in the game. So you just watch videos and hopefully you can do that."
A new situation for him in Peterborough required lots of travelling all across Ontario to cities like Barrie, Markham and Whitby.
He did not know many people in Peterborough, and by trekking with the team so much, he developed a strong bond with his new teammates.
"It's a great group of guys in there and we're all like best buds," he said. "So, you get close with them."
Radley’s support system has helped him balance both his on-ice and off-ice lives. He has to manage his schoolwork, nutrition and sleep while also producing for the top team in the league.
"I attribute that a lot to the coaches," his mother Megan said. "I think they work really hard with them and show him how much they trust him and how capable he is."
That’s helped the 15-year-old maintain composure through a dominant team season and with his own OHL ambitions.
He says he does not follow any planned rituals, although he loves listening to country music before games, and does like to put his right skate on before his left and tape his right sock before his left.
"He's very, very modest," Megan said. "Before a game, he gets a little bit quieter and a little bit (more) focused, but he's just level all the time."
His mother actively participates in the Minor Petes’ hometown experience as the music player, which has taken some getting used to.
"Well, at first I was like, ‘Oh, come on mom you don't have to do that,’” he quipped, “but I'm used to it now."
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Jacob White is a student in the Sport Journalism post-grad program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @White_Jacob22