Holmes at home recuperating
In the latest NHL Central Scouting rankings, St. Davids’ Hunter Holmes is ranked 149th among North American skaters. Photos by OHL IMAGES.
This season is a crucial one in the hockey career of Hunter Holmes.
The St. Davids native turned 18 on Jan. 25 and was hoping for a strong finish to his second year of Ontario Hockey League play with the Flint Firebirds which would propel him up the NHL Central Scouting rankings.
But rather than turning heads with his play, the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder is back home in Niagara recuperating from a bout of mono.
Holmes had the flu and then strep throat before doctors discovered he had mono. His return to action has yet to be determined.
“They don’t know how long I have had it for, so it depends on how I feel,” he said. “It could be a while or I could be back in a couple of weeks.
Contracting the illness was a bitter pill to swallow for the A.N. Myer student.
“It’s not the ideal news, but I am pretty optimistic that I will be able to come back for a couple of games at the end of the season,” he said. “I am staying positive and I am looking forward to that.”
In the recent NHL Central Scouting rankings, Holmes is ranked 149th among North American skaters. His agent texted him that the rankings were out and his feelings were bittersweet when he saw where he was ranked.
“You always feel that you can do a lot better than you are but it’s always nice to be recognized,” he said.
Holmes, who has seven goals and 16 points in 35 games this season for the Flint Firebirds, knows that wherever he is ranked, getting drafted gives a player a chance to make a strong impression at a NHL training camp.
“All you need is an opportunity to get your foot in the door and then you can show what you’ve got after that.”
The former Niagara North Stars minor midget AAA hockey player has a history of doing just that. In his OHL draft year, Holmes was disappointed in his South Central Triple A regular season, but he cranked it up at the OHL Showcase Cup tournament. He had six goals and three assists in four games to lead the tournament in scoring and was one of three forwards named to the all-star team. He would end up being drafted 22nd overall by Flint.
“That was one of those times when you put your foot in the door, people see what you can do and take a chance on you,” he said.
Holmes can use that experience, knowing he has made the most of his opportunities in the past.
“I know I have it within me and I just have to bring it out and show everyone else what I’ve got.”
Since joining the OHL, Holmes feels he has developed a lot as a person and as a hockey player.
“I definitely grown and gotten faster and stronger and overall I have improved my game playing against older guys and having to compete harder for a spot in the lineup every day.”
He will need more of the same to take his game to an even higher level.
“Jumping to the OHL, I knew had to get faster and stronger and it will be the same at the next level,” Holmes said. “I will have to get bigger, stronger and faster and get myself ready to battle at the next level.”
Holmes’ short-term plan is to stay home for a week, rest up and try to win the battle with mono. He will then return to Flint, get more tests done and hopefully get the clearance to return to practice.
At the end of his first season, Holmes returned to Niagara and finished his school year at A.N. Myer.
“It’s fun to come back and see your buddies and whatnot, because the way I do schooling is I’m enrolled in A.N. Myer right now,” he said. “In the second semester, all I do is e-mail correspondence with teachers back home and I work on my own.
“It’s a little difficult but it’s what you have to do to make it work.”
It requires self-discipline.
“It’s not easy but I have tutors to help me in the States. Sometimes it is difficult to get myself motivated to do the work.”