The British Columbia Hockey League has averaged 98 Division I scholarships earned by players over the last five seasons. Last year, 108 B.C.-born players suited up in Division I, making B.C. the greatest source of college hockey talent in the country.
College Hockey Inc., the official advocacy group of NCAA Division I hockey, paid a visit to the North Shore Winter Club July 23 and with the number of NCAA Division I hockey players coming from B.C., it was trip into a hotbed for college hockey’s future.
About 75 players, born in 1999 and 2000, laced up for exhibition games followed by an information session on the NCAA game and how to get there.
“I think the BCHL’s track record speaks for itself,” said BCHL executive director Trevor Alto, who attended the event at North Shore Winter Club. “Every year, B.C.-born and trained hockey players choose the BCHL as a path to college hockey and we see increasing demand from across Canada and the United States to be in our league as a step to the next level.”
A few players highlighting the NCAA landscape last season included goalie Michael Garteig (Prince George) of Quinnipiac University, forward Scott Jacklin (Kimberley) of Robert Morris University, Connor and Kellen Jones (Montrose) of Quinnipiac University and Colton Beck (Langley) of the University of Alaska.
“NCAA coaches have known for years that the qualities they look for – specifically talent and intelligence – are abundant in British Columbia,” said College Hockey Inc. deputy executive director Nate Ewell. “Some of the best players to play at U.S. colleges have come from B.C. and the BCHL, and that’s something we expect will continue for years to come.”
In the 2013-14 NHL season, 30 per cent of the players came from the NCAA ranks. Among those are Justin Schultz (West Kelowna), Kyle Turris (New Westminster), Mike Santorelli (Vancouver), David Jones (North Vancouver), Jason Garrison (White Rock), Riley Nash (Kamloops) and Shawn Horcoff (Trail) are B.C.-born players who played in the BCHL on the way to the NCAA and then the NHL.
The BCHL opens the coming season Sept. 19-21 at the annual Bauer BCHL Showcase happening at Prospera Place in Chilliwack. All 16 BCHL teams will be under one roof with as many as 200 scouts from the college and professional levels taking in the action.