Three summers ago, Nathan Alalouf was on the verge of being on the outside looking in at South Delta Minor Hockey's rep program. Last week, he was more than holding his own with the top up-and-coming goaltenders in all of B.C. and Alberta.
The 16-year-old is fresh off a strong showing at the U17 Pacific Region camp in Kamloops which served as part of the selection process for Team Pacific's entry in the 2013 World U17 Challenge, slated for Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 in Quebec.
The camp featured 68 prospects from the two provinces, including eight goalies. Another South Delta Minor alumni - Edmonton Oil Kings prospect Mitch Walter - was among the forward invites.
Alalouf won't know until November if he has cracked the 22-player final roster but he did play well enough to get the attention of the Saskatoon Blades. The Western Hockey League club added him to its protection list which means an invite to main training camp at the end of the month.
Alalouf's workload at the tryouts included a morning practice with "Team Grey" followed by a game in the afternoon where he shared crease duties with Edmonton's Jordan Papirny.
"It was a real good experience," said the soon-to-be Grade 11 student at South Delta secondary school. "It was fast paced hockey with all that talent and showed you what level you have to be at. You definitely felt a little bit of pressure, but then you would clam down and play your game."
Alalouf's camp invite came after a solid rookie season in the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with the Greater Vancouver Canadians. He cracked the regional squad as a 15-year-old, a feat no one would have predicted two years earlier.
Having played four years at the rep level in South Delta, Alalouf attended Bantam rep evaluations where he struggled from the outset. He soon learned he did not make the A1 squad and his status on the A2 roster remained in doubt upon further evaluation which is the typical process for bubble" players.
"I didn't have a great tryout and was on the verge of being cut," recalled Alalouf. "I had never played House hockey in my life. It was between me and another kid on whether I would stay on the 'B' team or not. It was a real eye opening experience."
Fortunately, SDMHA goaltender coach Jack O'Halloran saw Alalouf's potential and began working with him. He secured his spot on the A2 team and hasn't look back since."
"Jack deserves a lot of credit," added Alalouf. "He helped me get my confidence back where it needed to be."
Alalouf has also received interest from B.C. Hockey League clubs and will attend the Nanaimo Clippers' camp first before heading to Saskatoon. He will then weigh his options for the coming season.