The Rogers’ Hometown Hockey Tour recently made a stop in Braden Holtby’s hometown of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. In the accompanying profile, we learn more about Holtby’s upbringing in small-town Canada and his dreams to bring a Stanley Cup back to where he started.
— Hometown Hockey (@hometownhockey_) March 13, 2017
While Holtby was born in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, he was raised in Marshall, Saskatchewan, where 533 people reside. Holtby spent most of his childhood splitting his time between the ice and the farm that he grew up on.
“I realized at a pretty young age that I needed to work on hockey, because I wasn’t going to be much of a farmer,” Holtby said. “That was too much work for me, checking cows in minus thirty degree weather.”
When in ninth grade he realized that the competition in Marshall would no longer be enough for him, Holtby and his family moved to Lloydminster, where he joined the Bantam Triple AAA team. While he was there, Holtby said he was finally brought out of his shell a bit after spending most of his childhood largely by himself in isolated Marshall.
“I was always that shy kid, so I met a couple good friends that brought me out of it, and in turn made me a better hockey player and a better teammate,” Holtby said.
Holtby continued to move up through the ranks, soon joining the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades junior hockey team, where he met Goaltending Coach John Stevenson. Stevenson proved to be a hugely influential force in Holtby’s career, helping Holtby channel the intense focus he exhibits during games.
“At that point in junior I was a fiery, emotional kid, and thought I could just compete my way to the top of everything,” Holtby said. “John was able to convince me of different ways that I could control my mind if I was going to make it to the next level. There was a dose of humility in there that it might not work the way I was doing it.”
Stevenson’s work with Holtby has obviously paid off. Often noted for his concentration and focus during games, Holtby has been an integral part of the Caps since becoming the team’s starter in the 2012-2013 season. Now a Vezina Trophy winner, Holtby has been instrumental in helping the Caps reach first place in the NHL, with 35 wins and eight shutouts so far. Just like many Caps fans, his eyes are set on finally winning a Stanley Cup.
“As a small-town kid from Saskatchewan, that’s what you grow up dreaming of, the Stanley Cup. And that’s it,” Holtby said.
Even though it seems like a Cup could be in reach for the Caps (despite some Negative Nancies brooding over a lackluster stretch), Holtby is trying to stay focused on the game in front of him, and rightfully so.
“When you get close to it, it’s hard to stay focused on it and not get too excited,” Holtby said. “Hopefully one day I’ll get to enjoy it.”
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