Scott Smith is leaving hockey behind to pursue his real passion – flying.
After three years in the Peterborough Petes organization, Smith has turned down opportunities to attend NHL training camps and an overage season in the OHL to enrol in Seneca College’s aviation program.
The 20-year-old Oakville native served two years as the Petes third-string goalie before playing 20 games last season as back-up to Dylan Wells. He posted a 9-6-1 record with a 3.15 GAA and ,904 save percentage.
Smith’s father Michael is a pilot for Cathay Pacific airlines and he says it’s his dream to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I’m quite excited,” Smith said. “I thought about it a lot through the summer. Yes, it’s very tempting (the hockey opportunities) but I came to grips with what I want to do. I’m a lot more interested in aviation and flying than I am being a pro hockey player. That pushed me towards turning the page and starting a new chapter in my life.”
He’s taken ground school courses through Athabasca College’s online program. He’s done some flying this summer and says in years two through four of his Seneca program he’ll attend flight school at the Peterborough Airport.
He’s been around flying his whole life and says his father has been his role model.
“He’s kind of living the dream I want to live. I envy him at times. It’s really good to have him there. I’ve learned a lot from him,” Smith said. “As a captain or a pilot you’re in charge of everything that goes on. You feel free, like the sky is yours. It’s hard to describe in words how you feel but I’ve always loved flying.”
Smith’s time in Peterborough was a roller coaster. He was up and down with the team and even spent time with the junior C Lakefield Chiefs. His perseverance was rewarded last season and he feels like he’s leaving on a high note.
“I understood what the business is and that teams were trying to win games,” he said. “Whenever I was called up or last year when I was playing, I was thankful.
“I learned a lot and made a lot of good relationships. The coaching staff as well, I want to thank a lot for what they did and taught me. It was a good time.”
Wells is returning for his fourth season and the Petes want to develop Hunter Jones to be his successor. They were up front with Smith about their intentions and were ready to find him another OHL team.
“We had a high level of interest from teams in acquiring Scott’s services,” said Petes GM Mike Oke. “Scott was invited to multiple NHL camps,” Oke said. “He felt now was the best time for him to move forward with his education and his goals and objectives outside of hockey. We wish him all the best.”