Suiting up in Ontario Hockey League games, for any extended period of time, often denotes the culmination of years of hard work and effort, the reward for hundreds of hours spent on and off the ice.
And while the journey to this coveted goal is no easy feat, remaining in the OHL, year over year, can be equally as difficult an accomplishment to achieve.
Despite appearing in 29 games with the Sarnia Sting in 2016-2017, 31 encounters in all over the past two years, Lively native Jacob Stos is currently in search of his next hockey destination.
Recording the first major junior hockey points of his career in Sarnia - Stos finished with two goals and a pair of assists with the Sting - the 19 year old winger also took away some valuable lessons, priorities that should make it easier for him to find another home in the sport.
"I had to stay in really good shape, throughout the year, learn how to drive the net more, and learn how to put pucks in the net," he said. "I think my physical game is very strong, but I can improve on all of the small stuff to become a more skilled player."
The highlight for the 10th round pick in 2014 was easy to find, an early February visit the Sting would make to Sudbury, as Stos recalled the second goal of his OHL career. "That game was pretty special, it was a fun night," he said.
"It was against my buddy, too - Mackenzie Savard was in net. It was a cool game. I was skating towards the net and my linemate passed me the puck near the net. I took a whack at it and ended up putting it in the top corner."
Heading for a tryout with Les Olympiques de Gatineau, Stos does not have to look far to find good solid sounding boards when it comes to the ups and downs of the OHL. His father (Jon) and uncle (Jason), twin brothers, combined to play more than 410 regular season games in the league back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"They've been through it all," said Jacob. "They know, and they support me throughout everything. Hockey is a tough road. You just have to keep pushing forward, and hopefully somebody will take you."