Chase Arnett wasn’t even 4 years old when he first got on the ice at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, learning to skate with the figure skaters and “snow buddies.”
Arnett admits he hated skating, because he had trouble staying on his feet.
But he quickly found motivation when he looked across the same ice and saw the big kids playing hockey.
Arnett also got a lot of inspiration from being a regular at Charlotte Checkers’ games, where his father, Chip, is an off-ice official.
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Some people like going to the pool, I like going to the ice.
“I hated skating at first because I kept falling down and it hurt,” said Arnett, who lives in Matthews. “But when I looked across the ice and saw the big kids playing hockey I realized why I needed to learn to skate. … I was going to do everything I could do be a better skater.”
Briana Arnett, Chase’s mother, laughs when she remembers the same stories.
“I remember we used to go watch Chase when he was first learning to skate and he would go by and make faces, and point to the other side of the ice at the bigger kids playing and hockey telling us that’s what he wanted to do,” Briana Arnett said. “He didn’t want to be on the side with figure skaters and snow buddies. They tried to keep on that side, but that wasn’t going to happen. Chase (Arnett) was determined to be on the side with guys with sticks and helmets.”
Fast forward nearly a decade, Chase Arnett, who just turned 13 years old, is not only a much better skater, but also “one of the big kids,” on the other side of the ice playing hockey.
Arnett, who stands 5-foot, weighing 90 pounds, has moved up the junior hockey ranks, as the center forward most recently played on the 12U Team Carolina (AAA), where he scored 17 goals and 22 assists last season.
But Arnett’s big accomplishment on the ice to date came recently when he was one of two Charlotte hockey players selected to the 13U Junior Carolina Hurricanes’ roster.
The Junior Hurricanes, coached by Jimmy Powers, have consistently been nationally ranked.
The 13U Junior Hurricanes have 15 players on the roster, 11 from the Raleigh area, two from Greensboro and Arnett and goalkeeper, Mason Rosado, from Charlotte.
“I grew up watching the Carolina Hurricanes (National Hockey League (NHL) team) and have always wanted to be one,” said Arnett, whose favorite NHL player is the Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner. “Even though I’m not on the pro (NHL) team, it’s just sounds good to be on the (junior) Hurricanes. Just have to have the logos on our uniforms is really cool.”
While Arnett is excited about joining the Junior Hurricanes 13U squad at their first team camp June 26-30 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, he has a busy summer planned on the ice.
Arnett will also compete with his Blades of Steel 13U team, which is playing the Blue Line Elite Cup in New Hampshire this month and the King of the Rings’ tournament in Toronto in August.
The Junior Carolina Hurricanes’ season also begins in August, where Arnett with compete in 13U Bantam Minor hockey, the first year of legal checking.
While Arnett and his parents are excited about the opportunity to play with Hurricanes, it doesn’t come with sacrifices.
Chase and his father, Chip, will drive to “The Factory,” in Wake Forest (practice facility) at least once a week for the Carolina Junior Hurricanes’ practices.
Chase will do another training session at the Extreme Ice Center with his former Team Carolina coach, former NHL player, Jason Dawe.
He will also do skills’ practice with a few, Charlotte hockey players on 14U and 15U Junior Carolina Hurricanes at Pineville Ice House.
Chase also has his regular, Monday afternoon skating practice with former U.S. figure skating gold medalist, Tappie Dellinger, also at the Extreme Center.
The 13U Junior Hurricanes have 15 players on the roster, 11 from the Raleigh area, two from Greensboro and Chase Arnett and goalkeeper, Mason Rosado, from Charlotte.
The Junior Hurricanes will also play in tournaments in Boston, Long Island, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Buffalo and Nashville this fall and winter.
“It’s not always easy to get Chase to all his hockey practices and games and there is a lot of travel involved and now with Junior Hurricanes it’s going to be even more,” Chip Arnett said. “But we know what we’re getting into and our family has had the hockey bug for years. We make it work together.”
“We spend many, many hours in the car together,” said Briana Arnett, noting their average hockey tournament trip is 11-12 hours. “It gives us a chance to be together, and Chase to do his homework. Our time on the road and the conversation and all that we get to do together is priceless. We all like to travel, and we are all passionate about hockey.”
While Chase Arnett spends most of his free time on the ice, he is also a well-rounded kid off it, as he the rising South Charlotte Middle school, eighth-grader also plays AAU basketball, and enjoys playing golf.
Arnett was on the A-B honor roll as a seventh-grader and says he “doing well in school is still more important than hockey.”
Chase says he also plans on spending as much time as possible playing sports with his friends in the neighborhood and going to the lake this summer.
But Arnett is ready for the challenges ahead of him and he looks forward to playing against the best competition possible on the ice. The Junior Carolina Hurricanes’ team will provide him that opportunity.
Arnett has played on big stages before, like this past summer when he played for Team USA at the Triple Crown of Hockey in Montreal, where his new Hurricanes coach Jimmy Powers was an assistant for the squad.
Arnett won’t be intimidated by the big moments, and instead he is embracing the next step in his hockey career.
“I’m excited about be able to play with and against some of the best hockey players in the country,” said Arnett, who hopes to get the opportunity to play college hockey, naming Notre Dame as his dream school.
“I’m going into this season knowing that I have to work hard, take everything seriously and prepare for each practice, each game. I like playing against the best teams and the best players, because it only makes you better. There’s always someone, some team out there that’s better. …
“I do get to enjoy some of the summer with my friends, but I love being on the ice playing hockey, so I look forward to all the practices, games and tournaments. I can’t get enough hockey. …
“Some people like going to the pool, I like going to the ice.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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