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The Tradition of Small Town Hockey Continues

By Mitchell Machtinger, 10/26/18, 10:45AM EDT


Opening eyes from Parry Sound to the Los Angeles Kings

Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Aidan Dudas’s hockey story started out like any other player. Growing up in a small town with older brothers, he found himself always at the rink watching them play until he was old enough to join a team. When it was time for Novice, Dudas suited up in the familiar green and white of the Parry Sound Shamrocks amongst his friends that were also his teammates.

Having the town behind his back while the team played is one of Dudas’s fondest memories of minor hockey. It’s what helped him develop the love for the game that he still holds today.

As Dudas grew from Novice to Atom and then to Peewee, he remained a Shamrock. Though he could’ve made the North Central Predators AAA team during this time, Dudas opted to stay close to home. When he hit Bantam, Dudas realized he had a choice to make – focus on school and stay in Parry Sound or look to take hockey more seriously. He ultimately chose the latter, deciding it was time to join the Predators, playing for three years before moving on to the Ontario Hockey League.

“Nowadays, parents believe that you have to be playing AAA right from when you’re six years old and you have to be travelling around all of Ontario. I still don’t really believe that to the fullest because some kids lose their love of the game and they don’t want to play anymore because of how much they played when they were six, seven, eight,” said Dudas. “That’s when you just want to have fun and be with your friends. I learned from paying Rep hockey until Bantam that it’s all about fun and you really have to know that you love the game to be able to play it for the rest of your life.”

Dudas was simply playing for fun as a kid. An admitted competitor, Dudas would shoot pucks in his backyard every day but it was because it’s what he loved to do. He says that joining the Predators as a younger player, with the hour and twenty minute car rides each way to practice, isn’t something he was interested in.

“I think staying in Parry Sound for my younger years, I realized I do love hockey and it can be a lot of fun when you do the right things.”

Dudas has always been fiercely proud of where he’s from as highlighted in the recent Hometown Hockey stop in Parry Sound. Up until this summer, he would stay in the Muskoka area in the off-season, commuting between rinks to get his training in.

In playing Rep hockey, Dudas was able to learn how to use and make his teammates better because of the amount of time he had the puck on his stick. In the summers, Dudas says he didn’t think too much about hockey and would play other sports like soccer while hanging out with friends.

“You hear it a lot, that the more athletic you are the better you’re going to be at every sport. I think you widen you’re athletic ability by playing other sports. You learn how to be an all-around athlete and I think that helps with hockey…. I think playing other sports makes you become a well-rounded athlete and that helped me become a better hockey player in the long run.”

It was that time away from the ice that helped Dudas’s love of the game grow even stronger.

“Even when I was young, I still took time off in the summer, I took one or two months off but it didn’t make me lose my love for the game, it almost made me grow stronger for the love of the game because I’d miss it. For those one or two months off, I’d be itching to get back on the ice. That’s when I realized I loved the game.”

Dudas was selected 10th overall by the Owen Sound Attack in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection and has played there in every season since. This past summer, the Los Angeles Kings drafted him in the fourth round, 113th overall. Through 12 games this season, the third year forward has seven goals and 10 points for the Attack, who sit in the middle of the Western Conference standings. The 18-year-old recently received his own bobblehead on a promotional night at the Bayshore Community Centre.

It’s just another highlight on Dudas’s journey as continues to follow his dreams from small town player to the bright lights of Hollywood.

“A lot of small town kids, they don’t believe they can make it out. There’s not many that do. I believe that if you really love something and you focus your time on it, I believe you can do anything with it. For me, it worked out because I had a love for the game.“

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Mitchell Machtinger is the Communications Coordinator at the OMHA. He's worked with various sport organizations and is an avid fan of all sports.

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