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Barrie native in Sault Ste. Marie for World Under-17 Hockey Challenge

By Stephen Sweet, Special to Postmedia Network

Barrie native Jacob Ingham was between the pipes with the Mississauga Steelheads for their game against the Barrie Colts earlier this season during OHL action at the Barrie Molson Centre. IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER FILE PHOTO

Barrie native Jacob Ingham was between the pipes with the Mississauga Steelheads for their game against the Barrie Colts earlier this season during OHL action at the Barrie Molson Centre. IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER FILE PHOTO

Jake Ingham is in the middle of an incredible stretch.

Last week, the Barrie native got to start his first Ontario Hockey League game at the rink he grew up watching his hometown Colts play in.

Now, the Mississauga Steelheads prized young goalie is about to suit up for Team Canada.

“Yeah, I feel like I have a lot of confidence right now,” Ingham said. “My confidence level is good.

“(My first OHL appearance in) that Hamilton game I first came into I wasn't really sure what to expect, down 7-0, but I did pretty well and it just kind of grew from there.”

Ingham is in Sault Ste. Marie, preparing for the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where he'll be between the pipes for Team Canada Black, one of three national squads for the event.

“It will probably take my breath away the first time I put on (the Canada jersey),” Ingham said. “I think it's truly going to be an honour and I'm going to play my heart out for the team.”

This is only one week after Ingham, who was a regular at the Barrie Molson Centre as a fan, got to play against the Colts at the very spot he used to watch netminders like Michael Hutchinson and Mackenzie Blackwood ply their trade.

“We had season tickets and I'd come a lot,” Ingham said. “I went to every single playoff game last year, watching them take down the Mississauga Steelheads in seven games, which is kind of weird now that I'm playing with them.

“I saw a lot of familiar faces in the stands (last Thursday),” Ingham added. “My goalie coach (Mike Rosati) is the one of the assistant coaches of the Colts, so it was really cool playing against them.”

Ingham had around 20 family members come from all around to see him play in Barrie, where he did something he hadn't done before at the BMC – come onto the ice through the east entrance.

“I grew up playing eight years of Barrie minor hockey and it was just a pretty weird experience being on the other side of the benches and wearing a different jersey,” Ingham said.

Beyond his first OHL action, this might have been the biggest reminder to Ingham that he was playing major junior hockey now.

“It opened up my eyes a little bit,” Ingham said. “I know I'm in the league and all of that, but we hadn't played Barrie yet. I just kind of looked down there and went whoa, that was the team I was on last year.

“It was a different feeling, but I got over it and got back into the game.”

Ingham played a solid 65 minutes between the pipes, but caught a bad break as he gave up the lone goal in the shootout, one that deflected off the post, his skate, and in.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “It didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, with the shootout goal going off of the back of my foot, but being 16 years old, I guess it's just a learning experience in this league.”

Ingham got the chance to play in his final four games with the Steelheads before leaving for Northern Ontario, and he earned a point in every single one.

Now, he'll try to keep that streak running against the likes of the United States and Czech Republic.

Ingham will do so with the help of a former minor midget Colts teammate in Connor Corcoran, as the Windsor Spitfires blueliner will join him on Team Black.

“Corky and I are good buddies and last year, he was my defenceman,” Ingham said. “We were on the summer camp team together and gelled together really well.

“We now know a lot of these guys, so it's really good,” Ingham added. “Dennis Busby, who was on our team last year, is coming in to play for Team White, and we'll be playing them the first game, so it'll be pretty weird.”

After a tough training camp in the summer, Ingham is ready to roll with these players and is hoping that, in just over a week's time, he's an international tournament champion.

“It's Team Canada, so a lot is demanded of you, but you're also wearing the Canadian jersey, which is an honour, so whatever they ask of you, you do,” Ingham said. “As hard as that training camp was to get here, as much fun as it was, it's business, and we're there to win a U-17 gold medal.”

Team Black faces Sweden on Thursday evening in pre-tournament action, and will begin round-robin play Sunday against Busby and Team White.

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