A quick visit to Google Maps reveals it’s 4,462 kilometres from
Baie-Sainte-Anne, N.B., to Calgary if the trip stays on Canadian roads, a
little less if it dips briefly into the U.S.
Considering the kilometres David Doucet has already racked up in his hockey
career, this week’s journey to Canada’s national under-17 development camp
is just another ho-hum road trip.
Doucet has been something of a minor hockey nomad, taking his talents
across New Brunswick, west to Saskatchewan and back east to Nova Scotia,
all in the span of just a few years.
But no matter where he has laced his skates, the 16-year-old has always
carried Baie-Sainte-Anne – a community of right around 1,400 on the east
coast of New Brunswick – with him.
“I think about them every day, every night,” Doucet says. “They've always
been there. Before I got [to Calgary for U17 camp], a bunch of people from
back home sent me texts – ‘good luck, have fun, do your best.’ They're
right there in my heart and they are really important to me.”
Doucet got his start at home, playing his Initiation and Novice years in
Baie-Sainte-Anne before making the 30-minute trip to Miramichi for a year
of Atom, and then going north to Bathurst – a 90-minute drive – to play
Peewee and his first season of Bantam.
That meant a lot of time in the car and a lot of sacrifice on behalf of his
parents, Marc and Sylvie.
Doucet can’t say enough good things about mom and dad, but gives special
credit to Marc, who works long hours on the Atlantic Ocean fishing lobster,
herring, oysters and smelts.
“He gets up around three or four in the morning, goes on the boat the whole
day, gets back around five and then he would drive me to hockey,” Doucet
says. “He'd always be there to go on the ice with me and help me out. He's
just a great man.”
The next stop on the hockey journey was a little outside driving distance;
Doucet went west to Wilcox, Sask., enrolled at Notre Dame and joined the
prestigious Hounds hockey program.
While it was tough being away from family, there was also a little bit of
culture shock for the Maritimer.
“I grew up right on the ocean,” Doucet says. “I got to Saskatchewan and
there’s flat land everywhere. No trees. So flat, you could walk for two
days and you could still see where you came from.”
The new surroundings didn’t seem to affect Doucet’s performance on the ice.
After putting up 21 points in 29 games with the Bantam AAA team, he joined
the Midget AAA side for its playoff run, ultimately playing four games at
the 2018 TELUS Cup and helping the Hounds win Canada’s National Midget
Championship for a record-setting fifth time.
Last season it was back to Atlantic Canada and a year with Newbridge
Academy in Dartmouth, N.S., which ended with Doucet taken 25th overall by
the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the QMJHL Entry Draft.
So the journey will continue in the fall, with Doucet hoping another trip
out west, this one to Medicine Hat, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask., for
the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, is on the schedule.
But wherever the game takes him, Doucet knows a piece of Baie-Sainte-Anne
will go with him. That’s just the Atlantic way.
“All the small communities really care [about their people]. They help out
each other and it's just a really great spot to live.”