Is Nunavut’s tiny Q a hockey prodigy in the making?
"Q has enough talent to get there, but his attitude is the best right now"
Attiqtalaaq Uuttuvak — also known as “Q” — can do things with the puck that some adults wouldn’t even try.
“Q goes down, puts the stick between his legs, and roofs this thing top-shelf on the goalie,” said Steve Fraser, the head coach of Ottawa East Novice A Ice Storm.
This audacious move is called “the Hertl” after San Jose rookie Tomas Hertl did it in a National Hockey League game to score his fourth goal earlier this season.
That’s not all Q can do.
“He has mastered the toe drag, which is quite rare to see anyone doing at his age,” Fraser said.
His mother, Anita Uuttuvak, said he practices trick passes like Sidney Crosby.
“Even when he played some of his coaches, he’ll beat some of them and deke them out,” she said.
By the way, he’s only eight years old.
The head coach of the Selects Hockey Development team in the Ottawa region said Q has the attitude to go far — even professional.
“Q has enough talent to get there, but his attitude is the best right now,” coach Francois Leblanc said. “And it’s better for him to have a better attitude than talent right now,” Leblanc said.
His coaches blanket him with praise, using words like “humble,” “confident,” “outgoing,” a “leader” and “well raised” to describe him.
Fraser has been coaching Q for two years now, and says Q pulls off moves effortlessly and that hockey comes to him naturally.
“I’d love to be able to take credit for it, but it has little to do with me,” Fraser said with a chuckle.
Q teaches himself. He always has a stick in his hands and practices shooting balls and pucks with his brother, Kalai, in the basement every waking hour.
It’s one of the reasons Q averages a goal a game in his Novice league and scored 26 points in 13 games at tournaments.
“I only play it as soon as I wake up and go down to the basement and play,” Q said on the phone from his Ottawa home. “Our basement is filled with hockey stuff so I do it all the day,” he said.
Now Q — originally from Pond Inlet — wants to take his game to the next level.
He’s been selected to play for the Ottawa region’s Selects Sports Development team — the same hockey program that has produced NHL players such as Logan Couture, Matt Duchene and Jeff Skinner, amongst 135 other alumni drafted by NHL teams since 2007.
And the Ottawa regional team wants to head to Europe this summer — but that poses a problem for Q.
His mom, a single 36-year-old parent who studies psychology at the University of Ottawa full time, is short the $7,200 she needs to get herself and Q to Europe — because Q must travel with a parent for the trip.
That’s why Uuttuvak set up an online fundraising campaign to raise the money.
She’s asking for $10,000. As of Feb. 10, she had received $850.
“The challenges we face continually, as a single parent home, are devastatingly difficult. So for us, any type of outside help means the world to us,” Uuttuvak said.
Uuttuvak gets funding for school through the Financial Assistance for Nunavut Students program and Kakivak.
But that doesn’t cover the costs of transportation in getting her kids to 7 a.m. hockey practices, or getting them to school on time.
Nor does it pay for hockey fees or gear, and especially not trips.
“We don’t always have anything for us, like, equipment wise. But we try hard to look for it and anyone who’s looking to donate,” she said.
The remaining $2,800 of the $10,000 would go towards paying the cost of tournaments for Q and Kalai in the future.
Uuttuvak said her two boys donated their birthday and Christmas money given by family and friends towards their hockey endeavors, instead of spending it on candy and toys.
The Selects team will also do some team fundraising for the trip in August.
Q said the opportunity to play hockey in Europe would be “amazing.”
But Fraser said the kid from the “the floe edge to the faceoff” will be a good ambassador for his community on anything he puts his mind to.
Right now, however, it’s clearly nothing but stick and puck, Fraser said.
“My son enjoys taking some time and watching Sponge Bob or playing on the Xbox. But Q will literally sit there for five minutes, then go, ‘wanna go play mini sticks?’” Fraser said.