Lillooet hockey fans and family and friends of Brett Watkinson will be watching tomorrow night when the new series 'Hit the Ice' debuts on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network).
Brett, 17, is one of 20 male First Nations hockey players selected from across Canada to participate in the APTN series.
The series' first episode will be aired Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. on APTN's West feed. It will be rebroadcast Saturday, Jan. 12 at 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 12 noon on the West feed.
Brett, who is a six-foot forward, was raised in Lillooet and played his first hockey when he was five years old at the Lillooet REC Centre. He is currently playing with the Kamloops Storm team, a member of the Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League.
His goal is to make the WHL and then "go as high as I possibly can" in hockey.
He is the son of Cora and Bobby Watkinson. His proud grandmother Franny Alec contacted the News about Brett's selection for the series.
Brett was chosen for the 13-episode TV series after he caught the eye of former NHL player and major junior coach John Chabot at the May 2012 national aboriginal hockey championships in Saskatoon. Chabot was given the task of selecting a team composed of the best aboriginal prospects. He was looking for players with size, skill and competitiveness.
"The ones who look like they're going to have a chance are the kids with character," said Chabot.
Brett told the News he thinks his best qualities are his "speed, strength and trying to be the hardest working guy out there."
He said filming 'Hit the Ice' "really opened my eyes about the game from meeting the NHL players who were at the camp. I learned that you have to dedicate and push yourself on and off the ice to get to where you want to go. That is what the NHL players did."
In 'Hit the Ice', the young aboriginal players come together in the Ottawa/Gatineau area for a two-week NHL-like training camp.
From physical training and on-ice drills to a variety of team-building activities, the prospects experience the highs and lows of a professional caliber training camp and "will grow not only as a team but also as men," according to APTN.
"Our hopefuls will be tested and measured and the lessons they will learn during this experience will resonate for a lifetime," APTN said. "Their ultimate payoff will be to showcase their skills playing against a mystery team under the scrutiny of real life junior scouts. Will their performance be enough to earn them an invite to junior training camp? For many, this could be the chance of a lifetime and a stepping stone to the pros."
For more information on the series, please go to http://hitheice.tv/