By Kate Irwin
An up-and-coming Invermere hockey star will step into the spotlight this fall as one of 20 players selected for a new reality TV show. Robert-Tye (RT) Rice is preparing to spend two weeks in Ottawa over the summer receiving intensive hockey training from NHL pros for reality series, Hit The Ice.
The 17-year-old, who is a lifelong hockey enthusiast, was selected to take part when show scouts spotted him play at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship in Saskatoon in April.
“I was playing for Team BC in Saskatoon … this reality show was there to pick out the top 20 Aboriginal players,” RT said. “They sent me something to sign and said, ‘Would you like to take part?’”
RT, who has Métis heritage on his mother’s side, was asked to send in a short video stating why he’d be suitable for the show. Within days the Rice family received a call from show creators Nish Media to say RT had been chosen.
“Right away I thought, ‘This is a great opportunity,’” RT added. “They train and teach you on and off the ice and bring in pros to basically teach you how to be a pro player in the NHL.”
The show, which will air on the Aboriginal People Television Network in January 2013, will feature 20 First Nations teens aged 16-18. It will follow the highs and lows of their two-week training as they prepare to showcase their skills in a final game before scouts from U.S. universities and the Canadian Hockey League.
For the self-professed shy teen, the thought of stepping in front of the cameras brings mixed emotions.
“I am a bit nervous, I’m kind of shy so being on a reality TV show is big for me,” RT explained. “I’m looking forward to getting a lot out of the training and spending time with other players … I have no idea who else is going to be there, but I think I’m the only one from the Kootenays.”
Former NHL hockey professional John Chabot will be leading the boys’ training as their head coach when RT flies out to begin the camp on July 21st. The Hit The Ice team is also promising tips and pointers from some of the biggest names in hockey, which has RT wondering if some of his heroes might be in attendance.
“Jordan Tootoo is amazing; he’s one of the Aboriginal players in the NHL,” he said. “Of course Sidney Crosby is awesome. It would be amazing to meet him.”
RT has been playing hockey for most of his life, with enthusiastic support from his hockey-loving parents, DK and Rob Rice, the former head coach of the Columbia Valley Rockies, and sisters Cydnie, Braydi and Wasyn.
In addition to playing twice for Team BC at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship, RT plays for the Fernie Ghostriders Junior B team and spent two seasons on the ice for the Columbia Valley Rockies. He hopes to make the step up to the Junior A league next season and dreams of playing for the NHL someday.
“We’re very proud parents,” Rob Rice said. “It’s nice to see this for our son who has worked so hard to bring his skills up to a high standard and always worked to improve … he has earned it.”