Not long after being named the tournament’s top defenceman, the Huntley family packed up and headed back to their roots in Halifax.
But Truro always held a special place for Huntley – it was where he made some of his best friends in hockey.
“Provincials were definitely my favourite memory from hockey,” said Huntley, now a 16-year-old rookie for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. “It was a lot of fun – we had a great team that year. We all dyed our hair blonde, so it’s kind of funny looking back on the pictures.”
The team was a powerhouse. Up front, Ben Higgins ran the show with 132 goals and 214 points in 65 games. On the blueline, Huntley was joined by Jared McIsaac, Julia Scammell and Julia Schmitt. One year ago this weekend, all five players suited up in Nova Scotia blues for the Canada Games.
For Huntley, it was a Truro reunion.
“That was a really cool experience,” Huntley said. “To get to see them all again, it was nice. Especially Ben, being the same age, we were on the same team for a few years. It was nice to have that back and have that chemistry again.”
For three seasons of bantam and midget, Higgins and Huntley went head-to-head on opposite teams. The challenge was always a treat.
“(Ben) had always been on my side, scoring goals for us, and now I was trying to shut him down when we were playing against him, which was a lot of fun.”
Last summer, Huntley sat in his living room alongside his mother as he saw his name go up on the QMJHL draft board in the seventh round, 120th overall. Moments later, Higgins was taken 121st by the Halifax Mooseheads.
Heading into camp to start this year, Huntley didn’t expect to make the team. At just five-foot-nine and 152 pounds, he has some growing to do. But his intelligence proved valuable and the coaches kept him around. In 34 games, he has one goal and four assists. The Remparts are fifth of six teams in the East Division, with just 10 points separating them from second.
Along with the chance to grow as a hockey player, Huntley has made efforts to take up French as well.
“It’s awesome to have a chance to learn a new language,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. Quebec City is probably one of the easiest places to transition. There’s a lot of people who speak English as well.”
Despite having moved at a young age and now being hours away from home, Huntley will always remember being a bleached-blonde boy with a gold medal and a great group of teammates.
“Truro definitely has a place in my heart.”