Local hockey player Robert-Tye (RT) Rice has the NHL in his sights.
Mr. Rice was invited to the Rookie Camp for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche this September. He is spending his days preparing with intense training in the gym and on the newly-made ice at the Eddie Mountain Arena.
“I just go over there and do what I can do best, focus on what I can control, and that’s it,” he says of his training. “I’ve been working really hard.”
He’s feeling optimistic about the rookie camp.
“I like to think my chances are high; my agent was telling me that they’re looking for a player like me,” he said.
Mr. Rice played for the University of Prince Edward Island the 2016-17 season. Last summer, he was invited to the Development Camp with the Vancouver Canucks. Mr. Rice was definitely one of the older, if not the oldest player, at that camp.
“They liked what they saw, but obviously I didn’t get a followup. They didn’t have any spots at the time,” he says.
So he headed back to PEI for another season. Unfortunately, several injuries left him off ice for about half the short university season.
Since this last season in PEI was tough, Mr. Rice says he was not expecting much of a follow-up to the season. But his agent found a good fit for the Invermere player. A farm team for the Colorado Avalanche got ahold of Mr. Rice and was interested in signing him. The team is in the ECHL – the Utah Grizzlies – and offered him a rookie contract salary for the next year. He signed the contract two weeks ago.
Alongside the contract came the invitation to attend the rookie camp, which will include a round-robin style tournament in Las Vegas with six other NHL rookie camp teams. If the coaches like what they see, he could be invited for another camp that could lead to AHL, or even NHL, opportunities with the Colorado Avalanche.
The Rookie face-off happens in Las Vegas September 8th-11th. Each team will play three games, with one practice day, in the four-day span. The Colorado Avalanche rookies start their play Saturday, September 8th at 8 p.m. and all games can be live streamed online.
Mr. Rice started his hockey career with the Columbia Valley Rockies in 2009, playing two seasons for the local team before joining the Fernie Ghostriders. In 2013, he was recruited for a BC Hockey League team, then played a season for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
After finishing his Jr. hockey he played one year for the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) and was awarded Rookie of the Year before playing his last two years at UPEI.
Story edited to reflect correct name of ECHL