Cameron Hough was a toddler when he first put on a pair of skates. By 3 years old he was playing Tim Bits hockey. Now as he approaches his 20th birthday, the power forward will get his first opportunity to be a captain of a hockey team. He will wear the “C” for the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the upcoming 2020-21 season.
Hough was destined to play Canada’s national game. His mother, Patricia Fletcher, won two silver medals at the Canadian Figure Skating championships in the ice dance competition with her skating partner Michael de la Penotiere in 1978 and ’79, also representing her country in the World Figure Skating Championships in both of those years. His father, Raymond Hough, played junior hockey as a goaltender.
“I grew up in rinks. I got my skating skills from my Mom and my hockey knowledge from my Dad,” says Hough who is excited for the opportunity be a captain for the first time in his playing career. He was an assistant captain in minor hockey, playing triple A with the Markham Waxers and then the Markham Majors and Vaughn Kings in the Greater Toronto Minor Hockey League. A strong skater who demonstrated some scoring touch in minor hockey, Hough was a late selection in the 2016 Ontario Hockey League draft when he was chosen in the 13th round, 257th overall by the Sarnia Sting.
In his final minor hockey league season, Hough put up 57 points with Vaughan, including 26 goals. He then split some time between the Toronto Junior Canadiens and the Sarnia Sting in the 2016-17 season, making his major junior debut with the Sting in December of 2016. After two seasons of limited playing time in Sarnia, Hough was traded to the Kingston Frontenacs, where he played 46 games in the 2018-19 campaign, primarily in a grinder role that often left him to defend younger players on the team. The enforcer role led to an increase in his penalty minutes and a lengthy 15 game suspension, with limited opportunity to contribute offensively.
Looking for new opportunities, Hough was invited by Lumber Kings coach Alex Armstrong to visit Pembroke and take in a Kings game. “After leaving Kingston, Alex called a few times and said it was a great hockey town. I went up for a game in Pembroke and loved the atmosphere. I loved playing there last year,” says Hough who had a great first season in Pembroke, scoring 24 goals and accumulating 45 points.
“The pace is a bit slower than the OHL, but there are a lot of skilled players. When I first came, I had confidence coming from a higher level. It carried throughout the season,” says Hough. His coach started to see the benefits of Hough’s major junior hockey experience and hinted to Hough that he was thinking about naming him team captain when the season came to a close because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cameron has shown great leadership in his first year as a King. His three year stint in the OHL has taught him to be a leader as he was in the dressing room with many high end players, some of whom are now in the NHL,” says Armstrong, adding “He has a pro shot and is a great skater.”
With just the right amount of grit and an ability to communicate well with younger players on the team, Hough has positioned himself well to be the team’s captain in his final year of junior eligibility. “I work really hard on and off the ice. Coming from the level I came from, I can help lead the younger guys to get to a higher level of hockey because I have experienced it,” says Hough who is embracing the opportunity to be a mentor and great teammate.
Now, he just has to wait for the green light to return to the ice. Like all junior hockey teams in the country, the Lumber Kings are hoping their season will start in September, but there remains much uncertainty as hockey leagues across the nation try to plan their future during the COVID-19 pandemic. For now, Hough will be a captain from a distance, reaching out to his teammates from his parent’s home in Uxbridge and getting them mentally prepared for the season ahead, whenever it might start.