Players hit ice for TV series
Wyatt Bonneau and Conrad McMillan spent part of their summer pursuing a hockey dream.
And that pursuit was filmed as part of a reality television show.
The Okanagan Indian Band duo are among 20 players hoping to land a spot on a junior hockey team through the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) reality series Hit The Ice, which was shot in Gatineau, Que. in July.
“The premise is to have the players make a junior team,” said DJ Bonneau, Wyatt’s father. “They had 20 players going in and 14 or 15 were selected to make a team at the end of camp that would play a mystery team.
“The players that made the final junior team would be selected to try out for junior teams across Canada.”
Due to confidentiality rules, Bonneau can’t say anything about what happened to his son, a centre, and McMillan, a goalie, during the show or the end result for both.
The 18-year-old hockey players earned their spots on the show in different manners.
McMillan was chosen based on his play at last year’s National Aboriginal Hockey Championship tournament in Saskatoon.
Bonneau was one of five players selected based on a nationwide online video applicaiton process.
“My wife and I went through about 350 home videos of Wyatt,” said DJ Bonneau.
“We selected three based on what we thought were his best attributes as a hockey player and sent them in. They e-mailed us and said they were interested in having Wyatt on the show.
“It’s neat that both these guys got selected. They’ve been best friends since birth.”
The 20 players were brought to Gatineau and put through an NHL-like training camp, led by series head coach John Chabot, who played more than 400 NHL games with Montreal, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Guest coaches on the show include current locked-out NHL stars Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets, Maxime Talbot of the Philadelphia Flyers, Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators and Erik Gudbranson of the Florida Panthers.
The players endured physical off- and on-ice training as well as different team building activities.
“Wyatt said when he came home, it was the best thing he’d ever done in his life,” said DJ Bonneau.
“It was most enjoyable and made him hungrier to be a hockey player.”
Family and friends were not allowed to attend any of the tapings except for the final game against the mystery team.
The show, Hit The Ice, debuts Thursday on the APTN at 8 p.m.