Even though he’d been practicing with the team and occasionally filling the role of backup, Cam Stevenson never really thought he’d see action in net with the Powell River Kings.
The hometown product’s main focus this season has been as one of two netminders with local midget rep team, also called the Kings. Injuries to the BCHL Kings’ regular backup Matteo Paler-Chow made it so Stevenson was on speed dial in case of emergency.
And wouldn’t you know it, last Saturday with the Kings hosting the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, that’s just what came up when starter Mitch Adamyk was nicked up with just over four minutes remaining in the first period and the game still scoreless.
“It was unfortunate what happened to Mitch but as soon as he went down, my heart sank,” said Stevenson, 16. “And I was like, ‘Is this actually happening?'”
It was. Pressed into service, Stevenson took the crease and this time he’d be working without a net since Adamyk was done for the night.
Over on the other sheet of ice at Powell River’s Hap Parker Arena, Stevenson’s midget team was in a practice session but word filtered over their teammate was going to see action in a BCHL game. Before long, they scampered off the ice, got out of their gear and got some seats over in the main arena.
“Whenever the move happened, word spread over to our side of the ice that Cam was in net,” said Kings midget rep coach Andy Welsh. “We continued practicing but it was not going so well. The guys’ heads were somewhere else too. The whole team went over and watched Cam play the last period and a half.
“When we went over to watch him in the second, he was getting bombarded with shots but he was working so hard. Pucks were finding him and it was enjoyable to watch.”
Getting some regular looks at shots certainly kept the young goalie’s head in the game but it was the reaction of the crowd, many of whom were familiar with Stevenson because of his local ties, that gave him the proper focus to perform.
“It was definitely the fans,” said Stevenson of the moment that made it real. “Everyone was cheering so loud for me and that got me really excited and I didn’t want to let anybody down.”
He didn’t. Just one puck got past him, a Jackson Doucet tally for the Bulldogs in the final minute of the second period. By that point it was already 2-0 Powell River with Gavin Rauser’s second-period goal standing up as the winner. Stevenson closed the door in the final frame and wound up with 21 saves to take the game’s 1st Star honours. His midget teammates were with him the whole way.
“They were getting excited, me and my assistant coach were nervous for him too,” said Welsh. “We went down to the other end for the third period and when the Kings got those two goals in the third, it looked more and more like a win. The crowd was going wild.”
So did the players from the bench at the end of the game, piling off to mob their young goaltender who turned out to to be the story of the night. After the game, Kings interim head coach Brock Sawyer presented Stevenson with game puck.
Stevenson says he hopes to progress to the BCHL level with the Kings or another franchise within the next one to two years.
He has as good a head start as anyone.