When it comes to the top score leader for the Canterbury Red Devils in 2021, there isn’t a lot this player can’t do… except for getting a driver’s licence, as he is only 15 years old.
This is the rookie season for Jacob Carey, playing for the Canterbury Red Devils, alongside his older brother & Red Devil goalie, Tim Carey, who is currently in his second season.
Jacob became an overnight sensation. The first game of the season was between the Skycity Stampede and Red Devils held in Queenstown. Despite the pressure of the Stampede, perhaps a forewarning of the strength the Stampede would harness this season, Jacob scored his first NZIHL goal. Not only capturing the attention of the NZIHL, but Jacob also became the youngest player to score in the NZIHL. The following night Jacob added another goal to his record, and as they say – the rest is history.
At the end of the 2021 Red Devil campaign, Jacob has scored an impressive 9 goals and 9 assists in 16 games to rack up a total of 18 points. He secured his spot at the top of the list as the scoring leader for the Red Devils, averaging a point per game and finishing one point ahead of veteran player and NZIHL icon Chris Eaden.
“Jacob is hard working, he is coachable, he has a natural instinct and is hungry to score goals. He isn’t afraid of playing with new team members or competing against bigger and (physically) stronger players.”Andreas Kaisser, head coach of the Auckland Mako.
At the age of 13, Jacob was identified early as a standout player. A golden opportunity presented itself when Jacob received a partial scholarship to attend a school in Canada. Jacob spent ten months training at the prestigious A21 Academy in Windsor, Canada. A21 Academy is amongst the best private schools in Ontario, priding themselves on using ‘progressive academic strategies with elite professional athletic development and real-work skills’ to help children meet their highest potential.
This week, Jacob is returning to the A21 Academy to complete his junior year of high school and play in the North East Scholastic Hockey League. The NESH League consists of seven founding academies, who have all produced hundreds of alumni that have advanced onto Junior and College hockey.
When we caught up with Jacob at the start of the season, he was unwilling to compromise on his dream and without hesitation, he told us he would play in the NHL. Jacob is on the right path to realising his dream but the hours of work, dedication, sacrifice and compromises that lie ahead of him are not for the faint-hearted.
So, what does it take to get into the NHL? In 1985, a study was done in Ontario, Canada for all 10-year-old hockey players. At this time, there were 22,000 10 year-olds playing hockey in Ontario. Of these players, only 110 made it to the Ontario Hockey League and 22 more received scholarships to Division 1 schools. This means that only 132 out of those 22,000 made it into the top feeder leagues for the NHL. Of those 132 players, only 7 played in the NHL. Those are astonishing numbers.
There are two main routes for athletes to take to get to the NHL, either Major Junior or College Hockey. Athletes have two years to be drafted from the Junior League or continue onto college hockey, where you will have four years of eligibility. NHL teams look to graduates through NCAA programs because they have demonstrated their long-term commitment to becoming elite athletes. The chance of making it into the NCAA alone are sitting around 0.04% or 1 in 2,500. (We’d put our bet on Jacob making it all day, any day!)
As a New Zealand born player, Jacob will always be eligible to compete for New Zealand on a world stage and we look forward to having him in our national men’s teams.
“As a parent, it was the easiest tough decision to make. Jacob’s devotion and desire to succeed in ice hockey meant he wasn’t going to be satisfied in New Zealand. The world is small thanks to technology however, on the other hand, the world is huge and full of opportunities. We are immensely proud of both our boy’s achievements. Jacob is paving a road ahead for himself in an incredibly difficult environment, yet he remains completely humble, dedicated and coachable. He realizes not all dreams come true but unless you search and reach for it… it never will.”Proud Dad, Neil Carey.
From all of us at the NZIHL and NZIHF, we would like to take this opportunity to wish Jacob all the best for the upcoming year. In this uncertain world we find ourselves in; stay extra safe, represent your country with mana and above all else, know that the strength of our hockey community is behind you.
Kia ora’, Haere rā