From a young age, David Little had shin pads and a goalie mask strapped to him and was thrown in front of a net.
“I have two brothers who are quite a bit older than I am,” said Little.
“They always needed a goalie to shoot on. Ever since I was three or four I had the pads strapped to me and was the target.”
Since then, Little has grown up playing minor league hockey right through to midget in Burns Lake.
For the last two seasons, the 19-year-old has suited up between the pipes for the Houston Luckies.
But since the Luckies couldn’t find enough players to ice a team, Little was left without one.
It was by chance that he stumbled upon an opportunity to play for the Smithers Steelheads.
“I wasn’t planning on playing hockey at all this year,” said Little. “I’m mutual friends with Brendan deVries and they needed a goalie. But I’m definitely happy to be playing hockey again.”
The netminder has started four of five games the Steelheads have played with a save percentage of 0.885 and 138 saves in the season so far.
Though he has only led the team to two victories, Little has faced a barrage of shots from opposing teams in all games played, seeing as many as 43 shots in a single night.
Head coach Tom DeVries said Little has exceeded his expectations.
“He’s been great. I remember him playing last year in Houston and I thought ‘let’s get him along’, but I didn’t know he was that good,” said DeVries.
Michael Wall, a goalie with the Steelheads for two years who also played against Little in Houston, said the young player has adjusted well to his new team.
“It’s tough for a goaltender to come in like that, but I think he’s done well for the team, stepped up and made some big saves when they needed it,” said Wall.
“He’s a big goalie and covers the net well. The more he plays with our team, the more he gets to know the guys, he’ll only get better.”
Little’s commitment is also a huge factor in general manager Kelly Zacharias wanting to keep him.
“We enjoy the commitment that he has because he lives in Burns Lake and can make the games,” said Zacharias. “His commitment is another key issue there for us.”
Being one of the many new faces on the team, Little said making the transition from one team to another has been easy.
“I felt pretty welcomed by the team, they’re a bunch of good guys. I just like being part of a team and playing with your buddies,” he said.
“I think Mike Wall is playing now so I’m probably going to spend a bit of time on the bench, which is alright. I’ll still be backing up or playing the odd Sunday game, hopefully.”