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RoughRiders graduate Boots leaving impact with SJHL’s Bombers

03/23/2019, 6:45pm MDT
By Matt Mackinder

Calvon Boots spent his development years of youth hockey in Colorado playing for the Pikes Peak Miners and Rocky Mountain RoughRiders.

For the past two seasons, the Alaska native has continued honing his skills in the SJHL with the Flin Flon Bombers.

As a 1998 birth year, he exhausts his junior eligibility at the end of the year. He has NCAA options for next year as well.

It was going to Flin Flon that helped fine-tune all Boots had absorbed in youth hockey.

“Coming to Flin Flon kind of came out of right field,” Boots said. “I was all set to go play in another league, but I didn’t feel the connection with the coaching staff and ultimately, I wasn’t comfortable with that situation. And our assistant coach at the Riders, Brendan Phelps, had a connection with the Bombers, and he put me into contact with them. Just from speaking with them, I could tell how badly they wanted me, and I knew it was the right choice for me.”

Boots was tabbed the Sherwood Division Defenseman of the Year this season, all while missing time due to an injury.

“This season has been good for me in all aspects, except for the fact I ended up breaking my hand at the end of January and being out all the way until the last regular-season game,” said Boots. “It was a very good season, I was almost a point per game (42 points in 44 games) and loved playing with the group of guys we had this year including Caleb Moretz and eventually Ethan Daniels, both from Fairbanks and both former RoughRiders.”

“Obviously, being named the Sherwood Division Defenseman of the year is pretty cool, but I really wanted to win it for the league. I am proud of the divisional acknowledgment but wish I could have stayed healthy and showed the league what I could have done.”

In reflecting back on his time playing AAA for the RoughRiders, Boots had nothing but positive remarks.

“The RoughRiders, in my opinion, is the best AAA program in the country,” Boots said. “The setup they have there with the Sport Stable is phenomenal. It gives every tool for a youth hockey player to progress and get better, three sheets of ice, full weight room, turf field, and the coaching is awesome, too. I actually went to the RoughRiders following Greg Vanover there. Also having Doug Smail, a completely different coach than Greg, there helped me so much. The difference between them let me hear things and they showed me different things all the time. Also you can’t forget about Brendan Phelps – he is an amazing assistant coach and helps you with the little skill things whether it’s skating, shooting or stickhandling.”

Boots said he was happy in Alaska, but wanted more exposure, something he attained in Colorado.

“I chose to leave Alaska to play AAA because of the game schedule in Alaska,” said Boots. “We only had two teams to play at the AAA level and then we would go on a couple trips to tournaments or showcases, so our schedule only had 25-35 games on it. In Colorado, we played close to 60 or more. That’s how you develop – playing in games. So that is purely why I decided to leave Alaska.”

Down 3-1 in the first round of the SJHL playoffs to the Battlefords North Stars (with Game 5 tonight), that series is the primary focus for Boots.

After the season, he’ll focus on the long-term future.

“We want to come back from that deficit and go on to win the Canalta Cup,” Boots said. “Long term is to play college hockey and get a great degree. And if I can keep playing to keep playing. Plans for next year aren’t set. At this time, it feels like I’ve had every Division III school reach out and express interest. For Division I, I’ve had conversations with Alaska Anchorage and RIT, but am hearing a lot of talk between (SJHL coach) Mike Reagan and other schools. Just kind of waiting and weighing out all my options at this point.”

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