Keegan Lowe prepares to suit up with U.S.

His father Kevin has been an integral part of Hockey Canada over the last decade.

His father Kevin has been an integral part of Hockey Canada over the last decade.

His mother Karen won two bronze medals for Canada at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, and is one of Canada’s most recognized alpine skiers.

Next month, Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Keegan Lowe will be able to follow in his parent’s footsteps, but he’ll wear red, white, and blue colours.

The 17-year-old will represent the United States at the U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament on Aug. 9-14 in Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia.

“It’s a little strange with my parents having deep Canadian roots, especially since I grew up here in Edmonton almost my whole life,” said Lowe.

“When I went down for the selection camp, they had a all-star game at the end of it, and it felt weird putting on the jersey of the U.S., but it’s a great honour to put on the jersey of any country and be able to represent it.”

With the Canadian pride running high in the Lowe household, Keegan’s recent accomplishment is getting its fair share of good natured jabs and pokes headed his way.

“My grandma lives with us, and she keeps telling me, that she will definitely cheer for me personally, but when it comes to cheering for the U.S. . . . no way,” laughed Lowe.

“I know deep down, my family is having fun with it, and they are certainly proud of what I’ve done. This is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and I’m excited to get my first chance to play in an international tournament.”

Lowe has duel citizenship after he was born in Greenwich, Conn., while his father played for the New York Rangers.

Prior to cracking the blueline as a 16-year-old with the Oil Kings, Lowe spent his winters playing hockey at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota.

The Oil Kings drafted Lowe in the sixth round, 114th overall in 2008 Western Hockey League bantam draft.

When Oil Kings general manager Bob Green selected Lowe, some people may have questioned the selection because he’s Kevin’s son.

But Keegan has quieted those critics in a big way.

He was a big surprise at training camp last year, making the team and turning himself into a top-four defenceman with the Oil Kings by season’s end.

Now getting an opportunity to take his game to the international level, Lowe is quietly making a name for himself.

He finished his rookie season with two goals and 12 assists in 69 games.

“Honestly, this whole year has been kind of a whirlwind for me. I didn’t really expect to go into (Oil Kings) camp and make the team. All along I had the willpower to play, but I felt that I was most likely going to go back to Shattuck and play high school hockey again,” said Lowe.

“There are always people that are going to doubt you and don’t think you can do stuff. I just tried to forget about that and get the experience under my belt and continue to grow as a player.”

The U.S. development program first laid their eyes on Lowe while he was at Shattuck. His strong rookie campaign with the Oil Kings earned him the invitation to the U-18 camp.

Growing up in the shadow of his father being in the centre of the hockey fish bowl in Edmonton, Keegan has had to carry the pressure of being his dad’s prodigy.

While not facing the pressure from his parents, there are those outside pressures to live up to his father’s accomplishments as a player.

“I don’t really think its pressure; it’s just a different situation,” said Lowe.

“There will always be the people that will say that it’s not me who gets me where I want to go, and that it’s my dad getting me there.

“But I think if I’m ever able to accomplish anything my dad did in hockey, it would be a great accomplishment. But what’s more important is that I have him there to help guide me through it.”

Jason Hills is an Edmonton based freelance writer whose column appears every second Wednesday in The Advocate.