Hockey player from Coral Harbour, Nunavut signs with Team USA

A young hockey player from Coral Harbour, Nunavut has been signed to play for a team in the United States.

Daniel McKitrick, 24, will play for the Mississippi Sea Wolves, a professional hockey team based in Biloxi, Mississippi, and part of the Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL).

“It feels good,” he said of joining the team. “Because it’s been my dream since I was young, to play professional hockey.”

He said there were scouts watching games at the Fred Sasakamoose “Chief Thunderstick” National Hockey Championship in May, which McKitrick was playing.

“I got a call from the Mississippi team. I was really excited,” he said.

He said watching the NHL grow up got him hooked on the game and his love for hockey was what kept him going.

Coral Harbor’s Daniel McKitrick pictured during the 2018-19 season when he played for the Lakehead Thunderwolves varsity team in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Submitted by Daniel McKitrick)

“It could be a long season, so you gotta really enjoy working on it and training — like, taking all your time playing hockey and becoming the best player you can be,” McKitrick said.

“Stay positive even if there are discouraging moments, setbacks, but keep pushing forward and keep believing in yourself.”

McKitrick said he has played in tournaments in the United States, but this will be his first full season there.

In August, he will leave Coral Harbor to travel to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where he used to play. From there, he will travel to Mississippi the first week of September.

In October, he will play his first pre-season game.

“I’m just looking forward to playing hockey… So training every day, meeting new guys and hopefully getting some wins.”

Being back in his home community, he said he will miss it when he leaves.

“I always come back here. So many memories. When I was a kid, I loved it so much. I was pretty sad going down south, but I guess it turned out okay.”

Daniel McKitrick pictured after his team became Canadian National Junior A champions in the 2016-17 season when he played for the Cobourg Cougars. (Submitted by Daniel McKitrick)

McKitrick said he notices more Inuit going south to play hockey, “which is nice to see.”

As for advice, he said young people should not be afraid to leave their comfort zone.

“There’s a lot of good love from hockey players, but they don’t have opportunities like someone down south. So don’t be afraid to move. If you’re homesick…you’re so young then, you can come back when the hockey is over.”

He said he would work hard to be a role model for other young Inuit in Nunavut.

Catherine J. Martinez