BRIGHTON -- Taking the ice isn’t exactly what most Floridians grow up dreaming to do.
Kyle Keyser took the path less traveled by.
The Coral Springs, Florida native attended his first Bruins developmental camp this week after signing his rights to the team in October.
“My brother grew up playing the game and he’s older than me,” said Keyser at media availability. “So I was around the rink as a kid and always wanted to go out there and participate with him and it took off from there.”
The 18-year-old skated in four games with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League a year ago, recording a 2-1 record with a 3.50 goals against average and .903 save percentage.
Before heading north, Keyser honed his skills in the sunshine state, where he got his first chance between the pipes.
From the get-go, he knew it was exactly what he wanted to do.
“I just started skating and ended up falling in love with the game,” he said. “I started playing goalie a little bit during house league whenever they needed a goalie and went from there. I got my first set of gear when I was five for Christmas. It’s a little unorthodox coming from Florida and getting into the game of hockey, but I’m really glad I did.”
After exhausting all options to play in Florida, Keyser knew his next step was a move north.
He joined two junior programs in Michigan before being drafted by the Generals where he starred in the OHL. He impressed enough to get a contract with the Bruins at just 18 years old.
“The next step for me was moving up north to Detroit, where I could play my Triple-A hockey with Belle Tire Bantam and Victory Honda,” said Keyser. “I just needed a little more exposure going into my draft year with the OHL. But I wouldn’t be where I am without Florida hockey.”
Keyser was one of three Bruins goalies at camp, along with University of Maine goaltender Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vlader, who played in the AHL with Providence last season.
While Vlader is competing to start in Providence and Swayman is moving back to Orono for college, Keyser will also be away from the team again as he heads back to Oshawa.
But, this week’s camp was an opportunity to work with the Boston goalie coaches and test himself against elite talent.
Florida, despite having two NHL teams, still wouldn’t ever be mistaken for a hockey hotbed. But, having the Lightning and Panthers, along with a bevy of former players, has made the state a newer hockey destination.
With the growing hockey community, it’s allowed players like Keyser to pursue their dreams.
“It’s definitely growing,” said Keyser. “There’s more NHL guys retiring down there and they’re growing the game, which we’re very thankful for. Every time I go down there, I’m pleased to see how the game is getting bigger and there’s more teams and players are better. I think all those guys who are retiring down there are doing a great job.”