Guildford’s Will Kerlin has accepted scholarship at Ontario Hockey Academy

The Comet: Will Kerlin show off his medals and trophies. Photo: Danny LooWill Kerlin show off his medals and trophies. Photo: Danny Loo (Image: Archant)

Will Kerlin’s Canadian adventure is set to resume later this year.

The teenager has been offered a scholarship at the Ontario Hockey Academy after he was scouted at a recent tournament in Sheffield, and is set to cross the Atlantic in August for the start of a four-year experience which will see him live and study on campus as well as get as much hockey as he can.

What’s more, Will is going it alone. This would be an exciting, but daunting, prospect for most 14-year-olds, but it is something the Samuel Whitbread Academy student is relishing.

For it won’t be the first time that he has been out to North America. His family – mum Heidi, dad Vic and brother Dan – moved from mid Bedfordshire to Ottawa in 2007 to try a change of lifestyle before making the return journey back across the Atlantic to Clifton three years later.

It was in Canada where the youngster first took up the sport.

“We got out there and I got into skating and gave it a go, and it was exciting that first time but hard,” Will told the Comet.

“I’d never stepped on ice [to play] before, but I really enjoyed it.”

That was at the age of six, and soon he made the step from skating to playing hockey on the ice.

And while many people will not look back with too much fondness on time spent playing in goal in sports when they were children, there was only ever going to be one position for Will.

“I was young [when I chose to play in goal]. In my first season they gave us the chance to try it out and there was a 6am practice one morning. My dad came into my bedroom and found me in my goalie pads at the edge of the bed, waiting. We just knew.”

On returning to England, Will joined Milton Keynes Storm before moving to Guildford in 2013 to play A League hockey.

Last year, he was in goal for Guildford U14s as they beat Sheffield to become national champions.

This year’s finals were held in Sheffield, and Guildford were once again triumphant.

Will has made the South West of England ice hockey team on four occasions and has trials for England U15s later this year.

It is in Sheffield this year where Will was scouted by Ontario, who have since offered him a part-funded scholarship which he has accepted.

“When I came back to the UK I always said that I wanted to go to an academy,” Will said. “You have to be 14, and I have a good friend who will also be going out there. His brother went there and loved every minute.

“It’s a good academy, it’ll be a higher level than in England and when I leave there I’ll have qualifications to go to university.

“I was at MK for three years and it was the closest club to me, but then we found the rink was shutting so I moved to Guildford.

“They helped me lots and it’s a great level of hockey in England, but to get higher in hockey I knew I’d have to leave England and I know Canada already.

“The academy had scouts [in Sheffield] and they’ve had a long chat with us and my mum was really impressed.

“I’ve got friends going to different academies. One is going to the US and another is going to Switzerland.”

And what do youngsters in Canada think of his move out there later this year?

“I think it’ll be very much ‘if you’re good enough, then why shouldn’t we give you a shot?’. It’s a dream come true,” he said.