It’s not every day that you can fulfill a childhood dream.
For many athletes, the childhood dream is playing for the team that first fostered your love for the game, to wear the same jersey that your heroes wore game in and game out, to skate on the same ice that they did, or to train within the same hallowed walls.
But for most athletes, no matter how talented, it rarely works out that they’re able to fulfill that dream.
In the hockey world in 2018, however, it has become a trend. It all started on July 1 when former London Knight John Tavares decided that he would sign with his childhood team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On October 2, another player had the opportunity to return home and play for his childhood team – 20-year-old defenceman William Lochead. He attended games as a kid at Budweiser Gardens, and he was given tours of the locker room that he remembers to this day.
“I really only wanted to play here,” Lochead told Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press. “I grew up watching them and knew it was such a good organization. That was the only option. I enjoyed my three years with Niagara, but I’m really close to my parents and it’s nice being back home living with them.”
Now he will be a leader in that locker room. The 20-year-old over-ager, with three years and 156 games of Ontario Hockey League experience, prides himself on being the hardest working and toughest player on his team. Lochead will look to lead by example this season as he comes in as a veteran presence on an extremely talented, albeit young London Knights team.
Lochead joins one of the youngest Knights teams in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean the expectations aren’t as high as ever. The Knights entered the season ranked 2nd in the Canadian Hockey League pre-season rankings.
With a relative down year last year, the Knights are back and loaded with NHL talent, including the likes of Adam Boqvist (8th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft), Liam Foudy (18th overall in the 2018 NHL draft), and Matvey Guskov (projected first round pick in the upcoming NHL draft). And there has been an influx of exciting new talent from the midget draft this year, including Luke Evangelista, Antonio Stranges, Sahil Panwar and Gerard Keane.
In other words, the Knights appear poised to be contenders for a trip to Halifax for the Memorial Cup this year.
They’re young, but they’re here to win now – and for awhile.
By Fraser Weir for London Knights