Ben Bishop was hooked on pucks at an early age. His father got him started at the age of four after Bishop attended his first St. Blues hockey game.
"My dad took me to a game at The Arena, and I told him I wanted to do that," Bishop said. "He got me skating when I was four. I started out at Kirkwood and there wasn't a roof or anything (at the Kirkwood Ice Rink). It was all outdoors and I started out there and just kind of worked my way up from that.
"When you had those 5 a.m. practices and your toes were frozen, we all came off crying but it was definitely worth it," he said.
The former goaltender has now fulfilled a childhood dream of playing pro hockey in his hometown, with stints in the crease since the 2008-2009 season.
Bishop attended the Creve Coeur school from seventh grade until he finished his junior year. What would have been his senior year was spent in Dallas playing for the Texas Tornado of the North American Hockey League during the 2004-05 season.
He appeared in 45 games and led the Tornado to their second consecutive National Championship and Gold Cup, given to the best Junior A hockey team in North America. Bishop was named to the first team of the NAHL All-Rookie Team.
Even though Bishop didn't graduate as a Red Devil, he understands where his roots. He is part of a Red Devils hockey family that includes such names as Paul and Yan Stastny, Neil Komadoski, and former Blues great Bernie Federko's son Jordy.
"I still kind of consider myself a Chaminade grad," said Bishop, who still keeps in contact with his friends from his playing days at Kirkwood and high school. "I was there for five years and had a lot of fun there. The staff and teachers were so great to me.
"I played in high school and it was a lot of fun. You can't ever get those days back with the big rivals in and CBC. You'd have the whole school there rooting you on so it was a lot of fun."
Bishop's career took him to the University of Maine, where he helped lead the Black Bears to a pair of Frozen Fours before being drafted by the Blues in the third round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
A dream had suddenly come true
"It's a lot of fun. They say it a lot, but it's definitely true," said Bishop, whose parents still reside in Des Peres. "It's kind of a dream-come-true growing up in St. Louis and rooting for the Blues your whole life, going to games all those years before they drafted you.
"When I was at the draft, I talked to the Blues a million times, but you never thought you'd get drafted by them."
He made his Blues debut during the 2008-09 season and is 4-5-2 during his NHL career after going 3-4-1 this past season.
Bishop's milestone marker came this past season when he earned his first NHL shutout on Feb. 25. He stopped all 39 shots faced in a 5-0 victory at Edmonton. He's hungry for more.
Bishop went into the off-season as a restricted free agent but felt confident he would resign with the Blues. He earned himself a one-year, two-way contract that will pay Bishop $600,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL.
"It's the first time I've had to deal with the free agency side of things," Bishop said. "It went well. I'm real happy to be back in St. Louis. This is where I want to be. It's a good opportunity for me coming into next year."
Bishop will finally get his first legitimate crack at making the team out of camp and becoming the backup to starter Jaroslav Halak. But there will be competition after the Blues signed Brian Elliott from the Colorado Avalanche to a contract with the same financial terms.
The two will go into camp in September competing for the backup job, a job Bishop feels like is his to win.
"Coming into my fourth year, I feel real good, real confident with where I'm playing right now, with how I'm playing right now," Bishop said. "My first year, I had to battle it out with (Marek) Schwartz, a first round pick and then the next year with (Hannu) Toivonen, another first round pick that played a bunch of NHL games. It's nothing new. You're always gunning for a spot and somebody's always gunning for your spot. I'm not going to look at it any different. I'm just going to worry about going in and trying to make the team."
Bishop's mentality going into camp is the same as it was when he first laced on a pair of skates: with tunnel vision and a high determination level.
"I'm going in there thinking it's my spot," Bishop said. "I know (Elliott's) going to be doing the same thing.
"I'm not going to be too worried about what he's doing. You just have to be worried about your own game."