Houlton’s Payton Porter is one of 10 players who was selected from the New England District camp to participate in the USA Hockey Select 17 National Development Camp in Amherst, N.Y. from June 26-July 2.
South Portland’s Lucas Michaud, grandson of former University of Maine two-time Little All-American linebacker and Denver Bronco John Huard, was also chosen. He has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine.
Porter spent two seasons playing for the Houlton-Hodgdon High School Blackhawks before transferring to Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H.
Porter practiced with former University of Maine coach Tim Whitehead’s varsity team and was the starting goalie for the junior varsity team.
“I was surprised. I was really honored to be selected,” said the 16-year-old Houlton native. “I thought I played pretty well.”
The regional camp, which was held in Nashua, N.H., involved two practices and a game each day, according to Porter.
The New England District camp is one of several regional camps nationwide from which a pool of players is selected to participate in the prestigious National Development Camp. Porter is expected to be one of 20 goalies at the camp and they will practice and play games while being evaluated.
The top players will eventually be invited to play for the U.S. National Team Development Program’s Under-17 and Under-18 teams which are based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Porter said this season was a transition year for him at Kimball Union and he played behind Gavin Nieto and Paul Leger, who are both leaving.
“They both played real well. Hopefully, I’ll slide into the starting role next season,” said Porter. “I learned a lot from them. They helped me out with the technical and mental aspects of the game.”
He said playing at a higher level at prep school “challenged me and forced me to really up my game.
“But I got used to it pretty quickly,” said Porter. “I was really happy to be able to practice with the varsity and I traveled to some road games. I also liked getting shots under game conditions with the jayvees.”
He enjoyed playing for Whitehead.
“I talked to him a lot. He’s a great guy, a great coach and a great leader,” said Porter. “I’m really excited to keep working with him.”
Porter grew up playing hockey in the Southern Aroostook Minor Hockey Association and also played one fall for the Maine Freeze. He was chosen to go to the Select 15 National camp two years ago.
He said the decision to leave Houlton wasn’t easy but he wanted to play at a higher level in order to further his career.
“It was really hard to leave. But this is something I always wanted to pursue,” said Porter. “It’s a decision I had to make. I adjusted to school pretty quickly, thank God. I pretty much got into a routine and I stuck with it.”
He is repeating a year so he will have two more seasons at Kimball Union.
Porter said they had two coaches work with the goalies from time to time, Rob Day and Cap Raeder, and he and Nieto and Leger travel two hours one way on Sundays to work with Day at his Puckstoppers Goaltending school in Exeter, N.H.
“It’s real good to work with him,” said Porter, who is also doing dry land training to prepare for the National Development camp.
After returning home this spring, he also intends to try to get ice time in Woodstock, New Brunswick and at Alfond Arena in Orono.
There are several aspects of his game he worked on at Kimball Union and he will continue to develop.
“I’d really like to work on my rebound control and get used to playing the puck a little better,” said Porter. “I’d also like to be able to read the forecheck a lot better.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Porter is hoping to “up his game and get some exposure” at the National Development Camp.
He would eventually like to play in a top junior league and in college.