The Nanaimo Buccaneers have enjoyed a successful first half of their debut season, thanks in large part to their goaltending. Nanaimo has two strong netminders, one of which is 20-year-old Cameron Large, who is happy to be playing his final year in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL) in his home town of Nanaimo.
Large started his VIJHL career with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, where after a half season he was called up to play Junior A with the Prince George Spruce Kings. He returned to the VIJHL as a strong starting goaltender for the Gladier Kings, and this year he has played games for both the Powell River Kings and the Port Alberni Bulldogs. I recently had the chance to sit down with Large to discuss all things hockey.
Alli: Which classes are you enrolled in at VIU, and how do you balance both university and a busy hockey life?
Cameron: I am taking two classes right now; one is a first-year Marketing class. It is pretty crazy around midterm time with studying and homework but I find that practice during the day helps. I like to study, go to practice, then return to studying. I love that for an entire hour and a half nothing but hockey matters. I don’t have to think about studying or school, all that matters is hockey. It’s a great mind break.
A: Does Nanaimo have a different atmosphere than other teams you have played for?
C: Every team has a different culture whether it be hard-working, winning, physical, and, as bad as it sounds, some teams even have a losing culture. As a player you adapt to the culture that you are put into when you join a team.
A: What culture do you feel that the Buccaneers are developing this season?
C: We have definitely developed a hard-working culture. Just come watch one of our practices, coach doesn’t call them “champion practices” for nothing. Our hard work continues from practice and into our games. Our team is made up of mostly local guys and the community always shows up to support us. So we bring our best to the games.
A: Who has had the biggest impact on your hockey career?
C: My dad for sure. He is still to this day coaching me. Before every game he is telling me what I need to do, and all the things he has been telling me to do for the past 18 years. I have also had some really great coaches who have impacted me a lot. Ian Fraser was a big influence on me in my minor hockey days. Brad Knight coached me in spring hockey a few years ago. He is great—he incorporates real life into everything he teaches us. He emphasizes that there is more to life than just hockey.
A: Do you have any advice for younger hockey players?
C: My favourite quote is from Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you do not take.” I feel this not only applies to hockey but to everything in life. You have to be aware of all the opportunities presented to you in life and always shoot for your goals.
A: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
C: I listen to the same songs on the way to the rink, eat at the same time (three hours before), have a coffee before every game and practice, and never say the word “shutout” [as to not jinx it]. Nothing too crazy.
A: What is your next hockey-related goal?
C: This is my last year in the league, being a 20-year-old, so my focus is to bring our team to some kind of a championship. It would be pretty cool to win a championship with the Buccaneers in their first season and in front of my home crowd.
A: What are your thoughts on the NHL lockout?
C: They need to figure things out; I don’t know what to watch on TV anymore. On the positive side, with no NHL there aren’t any players moving up to the [NHL] so the guys in the Western Hockey League are staying put, and in turn guys in Jr. A and Jr. B are staying with their teams as well. Having players stay with their teams allows them to keep talent around and barns are being filled everywhere with fans who want to watch some hockey.
A: Is there anything you would like to add that you want hockey fans to know?
C: Don’t give up on your dreams. Keep on going until the bitter end.