Carson Konkin can’t believe his luck. Signing with the Burns Lake Timbermen was a natural desire, he just had to be good enough to make their cut. Otherwise, playing hockey this year would mean long highway trips all winter long in the wee hours of the morning. It all worked out for both sides in time for the team’s season opener on Oct. 21.
“I’m just glad I got to play at all this year,” said Konkin. “There isn’t a team for me in Burns Lake, that kinda sucks, so I’d have to go to probably Smithers.”
This misfortune, though, coincided with the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League’s (GMHL) expansion to the Lakes District. Konkin tried out and came to some practices before the two sides reached an agreement, but he had what the team was needing and the team certainly had the opportunity to play that Konkin was craving. He’s been doing it since he was four years old. And the GMHL’s annual fee was not an impediment when considering all the highway time the Konkin family would have to invest in to keep him in minor hockey in another town.
“I just love to be out there playing,” said the Centre. “I don’t really have a role yet, that will come. I’m still working on it. There’s no certain part I like better, it just makes me happy to be out there on the ice.”
Being a member of the inaugural Timbermen team gives him a significant developmental advantage, compared to minor hockey either out of town or if there had been a 17U rep team in Burns Lake. The GMHL team practices five times a week and has arrangements with Lakes District Secondary School for balancing the players’ studies. It’s a chance unlike any other to develop his skills. At the age of 15, that’s a rare opportunity.
It’s the youngest possible age to take part in the Junior A league, so should he enjoy the experience and develop as he intends, it will stand him in great stead to grow with the team and become a leader over time. And he’s not the only ’07 on the roster, nor is he the only resident of the area as many of the Timbermen are imported from western Canadian communities.
“We have four players so far in the 15-16 range,” said General Manager and Head Coach James Dyment. “We are allowed to have as many 21-year-old players as we want, but the oldest player for us is 20 and there is only one. I think this team is in the right spot for growing into the future. We’re giving up some advantages of those older players, but we are developing players like Carson and giving them a great opportunity that will turn into the team’s opportunity in a couple of years.”
The first game Carson played at the GMHL level showed that roster inexperience. They fell 13-4 to the Mackenzie Mountaineers on home ice. Despite the lopsided score, Carson said he wasn’t feeling worry about the followup games, and he got to allay some of his nerves.
“I’ve never played against players that old, with skills at that level. I’m sure I’ll get used to that over time,” he said. “Everybody I know is really supportive of me being on this team. That’s the only worry anyone’s had is the older players. I’ll get it. It’ll be fine.”