When Invermere local Robert-Tye (RT) Rice first heard about the opportunity to take part in a brand-new television series called Hit the Ice, he wasn’t quite sure what to think, but prior to leaving on Saturday (July 21) to begin filming, he said he was excited to take part.
“I didn’t know what it was about, or what I’d be doing on it,” Rice explained. “First, I found out it was a TV show, and I’m pretty shy in front of cameras, so I was pretty nervous.”
Rice first heard about the reality TV series in April at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Saskatoon where he played for Team BC. Upon returning home, he received the invite to participate in the two-week series, which will air on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in January 2013. Rice told The Valley Echo he was particularly looking forward to learning from the coaches who have signed onto the program, including an National Hockey League (NHL) veteran with more than 500 games under his belt — former Montreal Canadiens player John Chabot.
“Whatever [the coaches] say, you just have to learn from them,” Rice said. “I want to take in as much as I can.”
A hockey player since the age of three, Rice spent this last season playing for the Fernie Ghostriders in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL). The Ghostriders were one of the top teams in the league last season, making it all the way to the third round of the playoffs before losing to the eventual champion, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Rice, a forward, contributed seven goals and twelve assists during the regular season, and said one of the main things he wants to work on this off-season is his speed as being a taller player, he feels like he could become more agile.
“I’m looking forward to getting the experience, and getting some different training,” Rice said. “I’ve been training on my own program, but there’s always new things that I’d like to learn.”
The show itself will feature 20 aboriginal hockey players from across Canada between the ages of 16 and 18 taking part in on- and off-ice training with the help of top-level coaches and current NHL players, including Florida Panthers defenceman Erik Gudbranson. The series will culminate in a game between the invited prospects and an Ottawa all-star team consisting of midget AAA and junior players. This final game is likely to be closely watched by scouts from a variety of leagues, and Rice is hoping he gets his chance to impress.
“I just love playing hockey, I’ve always loved it since I was growing up,” Rice said. “The skating, the shooting, the hitting, scoring, team bonding… everything.”
Rice said his goal is to one day play in the NHL, and is currently deciding on which Junior A camps he would like to attend. For more information on Hit the Ice, visit their website at www.hittheice.tv.