Alex Drover Ready For Under 17 Development Camp, Upcoming QMJHL Season
Despite being just 16 years old Alex Drover is already well travelled, having played hockey on both coasts of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Massachusetts growing up. And following his selection at tenth overall by the Screaming Eagles in June’s QMJHL draft, he’s now headed to Calgary to take part in Hockey Canada’s Under 17 development camp.
Last season Drover made an immediate impact in the Nova Scotia Major Midget League, finishing second in league scoring and being named the circuit’s rookie of the year. But it wasn’t just the scoring prowess that drew the Eagles to the Port-aux-Basques born centre. “He is as good on the defensive side as he is on the offensive side of the puck,” says Cape Breton head scout & assistant general manager Jacques Carrière. “Alex is involved in the play in all zones and areas. He has one speed and it is all out.”
This summer Drover has been on the ice five days a week with Jill and Darryl Plandowski as he is coached on power skating and skills. The 5’10 170 pound forward has been training at Pro Edge Gym five-six days a week working on strength and mobility, and has been working with older junior and professional players. “I feel 100 percent ready for the upcoming camp and I am looking forward to the upcoming QMJHL season,” says the Screaming Eagles top 2018 draft pick.
Cape Breton is far from unfamiliar territory for the Drover family. Alex’s parents Rick and Valerie both attended the Canadian Coast Guard College in Westmount where they studied Marine Communications and Traffic Services. While they were posted to Port-aux-Basques, Rick and Valerie have both returned to the Coast Guard College many times over the years for additional training.
Alex began his hockey playing days in Western Newfoundland before moving to Torbay (near St. John’s) at age nine. It was on an earlier trip to St. John’s when he saw his first QMJHL game- the St. John’s Fog Devils vs. the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. “It’s pretty cool that the team that I first watched drafted me,” exclaims Drover.
Now considering Nova Scotia his home province, Drover relocated to Halifax at age 12. While he played his rookie bantam (Bedford) and midget (Halifax) campaigns in Nova Scotia, the forward spent the 2016-17 season in the USPHL with the Under16 Boston Bruins.
His next journey takes him to Alberta as Drover is one of 111 players (including 63 forwards) that will partake in this week’s event. “A player who participates at the U17 summer camp has a chance to compare himself to the best Canadian players of his birth year,” states Screaming Eagles general manager and head coach Marc-André Dumont. The Cape Breton bench boss notes that the camp is important in the selection of the three final teams in the fall, as once the major junior regular season begins there are too many eligible players for Hockey Canada to fully scout everyone’s performance.
The Under 17 tournament is the first opportunity for players to represent Canada on the international stage, although much can change through a player’s junior career. “The best (U17) players right now are not necessarily going to play for Canada U20 in a few years, but most probably the players that will grow their game the most,” says Dumont, who will serve as an assistant coach for the U20 team this winter. “For Alex, it is an opportunity to showcase his game and make a case to be on the one of the three U17 Team Canada.” The development camp will run from July 21st to July 27th, as players are divided into six teams for training, fitness testing, practices, intrasquad games, and classroom sessions.
Once the week with Hockey Canada ends it will not be too long before Alex Drover heads to Sydney for his first major junior training camp in August. Citing being drafted into the QMJHL as a dream come true, the just-turned 16 year old skater describes himself as having been “excited beyond words” to be chosen by the Screaming Eagles. ” I am thrilled to be a part of a great organization. Cape Breton is a hockey town, the fans are passionate about the sport and so am I.”