12-year-old Kyle Chernenkoff is off to Europe next week as a member of the U98 AAA Western Canadian Explorers. Chernenkoff was scouted to try out for the team at a tournament in Calgary last spring.

Provincials first, then Europe for young Castlegar hockey player

Kyle Chernenkoff had no idea he was being scouted for a Western Canadian team while playing hockey last spring. It wasn’t until the scout searched him and his family out at a tournament in Calgary that Chernenkoff first started thinking about taking his hockey to the next level.

Kyle Chernenkoff had no idea he was being scouted for a Western Canadian team while playing hockey last spring.

It wasn’t until the scout searched him and his family out at a tournament in Calgary that Chernenkoff first started thinking about taking his hockey to the next level.

He was invited to a camp just outside of Red Deer, Alta., to try out for a team that would represent Western Canada during a tour of Europe.

But it wasn’t until he got to the camp that he realized how big of an opportunity this could be.

There were 90 boys invited and “only three kids from B.C.,” Chernenkoff said.

Over the two-day camp, the boys were on the ice for 14 hours total.

“I wasn’t walking much [after the camp],” he said. “I was pretty sore.”

He then had to wait until October before he heard any results. Although he was pretty proud of the way he performed at the camp in Alberta, he didn’t want to get his hopes up too high as there were only spots for 15 skaters and two goalies.

But then he got the letter saying he made the team.

“I was useless at school that day,” Chernenkoff said. “I was pretty excited.”

The team won’t get together for the first time until March 20, but he’ll have to miss the practice.

“I won’t be able to make it because I’ll be at provincials with my home team,” he said.

Chernenkoff plays with Castlegar Minor Hockey’s Pee Wee Rep team, who are looking to win the provincial title for the second year in a row in Campbell River this weekend.

Leaving for provincials will be the start of a very busy few weeks for Chernenkoff, who won’t be coming home to the Kootenays between the tournament and the trip to Europe.

He’ll meet his other two B.C. teammates in Vancouver, and the entire team will meet in Toronto before they depart on their flight to Munich.

While there, the team will travel to Italy, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic before going back to Germany.

“There will be lots of tournaments but some will be single games,” Chernenkoff said.

While his dad will accompany him to the provincial tournament, his mother and grandparents are going to Europe.

“They’re very excited for me,” he said.

Chernenkoff is excited to see the other players and get to know those who made the cut.

“I think it’s going to be fun to get to know everybody,” he said.

The family was on their own financially for the trip, so they’d like to thank Celgar, Castlegar Minor Hockey, the City of Castlegar and other local businesses for their support and well wishes.

Chernenkoff will be returning from his stint with the U98 AAA Western Canadian Explorers on April 11.

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