Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
JUNE 5, 2018 10:36 PM
NHL eyes will be cast upon the Victoria Grizzlies next season.
And they can thank their new captain.
Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon got official word on Tuesday that reigning B.C. Hockey League rookie of the year Alex Newhook will definitely be returning to the club next season, and he’ll also be sporting the letter ‘C’ on his jersey.
“Alex informed me he will definitely be back for another year and we’re naming him our captain,” Didmon said of his star 17-year-old, who had 66 points in 45 regular-season games and another nine in 12 playoff games this past season. He finished eighth in league scoring despite missing the last month of the season with a wrist injury.
“Alex has all the attributes you look for in a captain: he works extremely hard off the ice and never takes a shift off on it, and is always striving to improve. We think he will help take this team to the next level.”
Newhook, who hails from St. John’s, N.L., is expected to play at another level next season, at least NHL teams hope so. The flashy centre is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL entry draft, which just happens to be at Rogers Arena in Vancouver next June. That means NHL scouts will be at Grizzlies games in 2018-19, notebook in hand.
“Alex could have played anywhere and he chose Victoria so that reflects on our organization, the players and the fans,” Didmon said.
“And the sky is the limit for Alex now. We want him to be the best 200-foot player in the game and improve every night out and he’s got the capability to do that.”
Newhook’s major-junior rights belong to the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and they had a massive carrot to dangle in front of him as Halifax will host the 2019 Memorial Cup tournament next spring.
“The Memorial Cup would have been special so it was a very tough decision [to come back to Victoria],” said Newhook, who lives with his aunt when he’s in Victoria and attends Belmont Secondary in Langford.
“But I love Victoria and the team and I really want to play [NCAA] college hockey so I made the decision that is right for me.”
Newhook is committed to Boston College for the fall of 2019.
“I’m looking forward to coming back to Victoria and having a great season and building off that.”
His season will get started early as Newhook is expected to get an invitation to try out for Canada’s U-18 team that will compete in the annual Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August in Edmonton.
“That’s my goal,” Newhook said. “The camp will likely be in July and it would be an honour to make that team and compete for Canada.”
Newhook will likely also play in the 2018 World Junior A Challenge in December in Bonnyville, Alta. Last season, Grizzlies goaltender Zack Rose won gold with Canada West at the 2017 tournament in Fort St. John.
Newhook is leaning toward staying in Victoria until the end of June, graduating from Belmont and then attending the draft in Vancouver.
“That, and I hope to be playing hockey into May,” he added. “I think we’re going to have a great team.”
Didmon said he’ll decided on his three assistant captains closer to training camp, which begins Aug. 20. He’ll choose between 20-year-olds Cam Thompson and Ryan Nolan and third-year players Marty Westhaver, Carter Berger and Nico Somerville.
“We have a great core of leadership coming back so we’re all excited to get things started,” said Didmon.