Raising an elite hockey prospect is not for the faint of heart as St. Anthony's Scott and Shawna Wiseman can attest.
Their 15-year-old son, Lucas, is away in Corner Brook this year playing for the Western Kings of the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League.
Shawna said it is very difficult emotionally.
"Very hard decision letting him go, but it was always something he wanted to do so it was hard for us to say no," she said. "Always wondering if he is doing OK even though he says he is and that he is enjoying it in there. It's a constant worry. Really miss seeing him every day."
There is also a large financial commitment. With both Lucas and his sister Rebecca playing AAA hockey in recent years, it meant a lot of driving to Corner Brook, St. John's, Bonavista and Harbour Grace. In fact, they even thought about moving the whole family.
"We would have moved away this year but (Shawna) wouldn't be able to get a leave from work so we had to stay," Scott said. "It's very hard financially but with a few good sponsors and family and friends, things are going good so far."
Instead, they are separated from their son and 13-year-old Rebecca is back playing local hockey.
But basically, Lucas outgrew the local area.
"We got a few calls asking if he was interested in going to Corner Brook for tryouts so off we went," Scott said. "Not much hockey back this way for him and he was to the point of getting bored back here with hockey."
That is not the case in Corner Brook. Lucas said he is having a lot of fun, but it has been a big adjustment on the ice.
"It's a lot faster pace than I ever played before," he explained. "I'm trying to get faster, and work on some new things."
The Western Kings got off to a rocky start this season with a 6-12-1 record for last place in the league of four teams as of press time.
Nevertheless, Lucas is optimistic.
"I think the season is going good, we're just off to a slow start," he said, adding he sees signs of improvement. "We're starting to have close games against the top two teams."
Those teams are East Coast Blizzard and St. John's Maple Leafs at 13-6-0 and 12-4-0 respectively.
Lucas is sharing goaltending duties with Lucas Park. Both have very similar records at 2-7-0 and 3-6-0 with identical save percentages of .906. That is good for second best team percentage in the league, but the Western Kings' netminders aren't getting a lot of goal support. The offence has only generated 53 goals, dead last in scoring and a long way behind the third place Tri Pen Osprey.
Goaltending has let the Osprey down, however, and the Kings are only one point back in the standings, at least in part due to solid performances by Lucas between the pipes.
"He is a very good goalie for his age and well advanced," Scott said. "A lot of people speak highly of him away, so hopefully with hard work and determination something will happen."
What that something will be is uncertain. Lucas is only in his first year of three he is eligible for at the major midget level. He hasn't decided if he is shooting for something beyond that.
"I'm not sure yet, just hoping to play the three years and see what happens then," he said.
His parents are hoping for the best.
"Well if we can afford to keep him there for the next three years and his marks stay up, we hope to see him play in the juniors somewhere," Scott said.
They are keeping it realistic, though. Only a small percentage of a percentage of elite prospects go all the way to the pros.
"As for making it to the NHL level, it's not something we are expecting," Scott said. "If he can get a scholarship with some team would be great."