River HomeLink student Anthony Ganoung is set to attend the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Canada this August, which has a prestigious hockey program.
Ganoung, who is a goalie, has played the sport since he was 9 years old.
“I am beyond excited,” Ganoung said. “This is a step in the one direction I wanted to go, and instead of taking multiple steps to get there, I feel like this is a really, really big step, and one that I’m hoping to enjoy. (It’s) definitely a completely different experience compared to everything else that I’ve done, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Once he finishes school, he hopes to play in the NHL one day.
“It would be nice to end up (with the Detroit Red Wings), but at the same time, if I make it, I make it,” he said.
Ganoung’s father, Chris, is proud of his son, but said he will miss him when he’s gone.
“It’s a little heartbreaking,” Chris said. “You have to kind of send him on his way to go to another country in another time zone and it’s just awkward. We’ve been part of Anthony’s hockey for so long, going to every game (and) getting him to every practice.”
Ganoung is his youngest child. Being a student at River HomeLink allowed the family to take Ganoung to his hockey games in Wenatchee, where he was in a AAA Tier 1 hockey program.
“Pretty much anything that we needed to do for hockey was a minimum of five hours away or a plane flight,” Chris said.
The COVID-19 pandemic created obstacles for the family since they couldn’t travel to Canada for games and Ganoung wasn’t able to play in Washington because of pandemic-related restrictions. They had to find alternatives elsewhere.
“Summarizing the last two to three years is hard since we even took to roller hockey in places like the Bend Bullets, the Oregon Rollin Reign and Team Farm Tough in Wisconsin,” Chris said. “He took top goaltender from the State Wars 17 Championships, where teams from all over the world would usually compete. But even there, due to COVID, (there) was a very light amount of teams at a world event with only a team from Columbia that was able to come in and play.”
Ganoung’s mother, Christine, said the expertise of her son’s coach Derek Gustafson, was invaluable. Gustafson’s brother, Kyle, played for the Vancouver Canucks and the Portland Winterhawks.
“To this day, we continue to use Derek Gustafson,” Christine said. “We do weekly sessions.”
Ganoung also had “on-ice time” with Gustafson, but Christine said that became more difficult with the pandemic and because there were less spots on the ice available due to the growing popularity of hockey.
“We purchased our own synthetic ice that we have here at our house and coach Derek Gustafson would come to our house and do our lessons,” Christine said.
Those private lessons continued until Gustafson opened his own facility with synthetic ice in Vancouver. Gustafson started coaching Ganoung when he was 9 and Christine said the coach took notice of her son’s speed and skills at a young age.
Christine said Ganoung is an energetic kid, with a great personality and character.
“Anything that he can do, he did it. Sports, talking, skateboarding, scooters. He was just this all-out ‘I’m going to try it, I’m going to do it,’” Christine said. “You couldn’t do anything for him. (He was) very self-motivated. We would laugh because he was so quiet. He didn’t talk a whole lot, but when he did, his stories were phenomenal.”
As Ganoung prepares for his new journey in Canada, his dad Chris can’t wait to see what’s next for his son.
“For a 15 year old, (who was) 14 at the time when he went to do his campus day visit and try out/practice with the team, that is tough for any hockey player let alone a goaltender,” Chris said. “You have to be one of the best.”
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