Skating out a dream; Gannon Houghton takes next step in hockey career

Lacing up his skates, Gannon Houghton is in his element. No, hockey is not just a hobby for him. It’s a way of life. One that began when he was just a toddler.

“I remember the first time I skated, I was three years old,” Houghton said. “I just remember going out there and not being able to skate very well at all. Just falling in love with the sport though and trying to get better every day.”

And with stick skills like that, you can see why he is one of the top players in all of Central New York. Recently, Gannon took a major step in his hockey career. The Cazenovia native was just one of 150 players drafted in the United States Premier Hockey League, a top junior hockey league in the world.

“I always wanted to play college hockey, so getting drafted to play juniors is just a goal that I had,” Houghton said. “And I’m glad I accomplished it and I’m excited to see what happens next.

But Houghton’s draft day was, let’s just say, a little different. Stuck in class, the high school senior was unaware he had been selected.

“I wasn’t sure, I couldn’t really check at all, I was in school obviously,” he said. “So, I had talked to the coach a few days before and he told me he was going to draft me, I just wasn’t sure when.”

But thanks to mom, Gannon would find out. Watching her son practice has been a daily tradition for Barbara Schaffner. So naturally on draft day, she watched the computer screen waiting for that special moment.

“So, I want to say I was at work and I think I jumped up and down and everyone in my office had been waiting all day, so they knew what was happening,” she said. “My son was at school, so the first thing I did was call his dad and his dad drove straight from work to the lacrosse field. I must have clicked on the screen 100 times until I saw my sons name. And his step father said, you did it! Your dad is going to be so proud as we all are. Your hard work has paid off.”

And now that Houghton has entered the world of junior hockey, his outlook on the game hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s still that childhood love.

“Just the competition, competing every day,” he said. “Going out and having fun with your friends on the ice, I think that’s what makes the sport great.

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