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Former Grizzlies captain Alex Newhook NCAA’s best freshman

Alex Newhook, the BCHL MVP for the 2018-19 season, racked up 42 points in 34 games as a true freshman for the Boston College Eagles.
Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Cleve Dheensaw / Times Colonist
APRIL 13, 2020 09:50 PM

Soccer, baseball and football players are holding out hope, as are NHLers and NBA players. Olympians have a belated Tokyo Summer Games next year.

But junior and collegiate hockey players will never know how the story would have played out on the ice in 2019-20.

Former Victoria Grizzlies captain Alex Newhook was named recipient of the Tim Taylor Award as NCAA rookie of the year before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out NCAA and junior hockey across the board.

“There are bigger things going on in the world, but it was still tough to hear,” said Newhook, who is isolating at home with his family in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

“We had legitimate hopes of going to the Frozen Four and winning the national title. Not getting to play for it is unfortunate.”

Newhook had an NCAA freshman-best 19 goals for fifth-ranked Boston College, which was 24-8-2 when the season was suspended. His 42 points in 34 games placed him in the NCAA top 10 overall and was second among rookies behind the 44 points of Toronto Maple Leafs-prospect Nick Abruzzese of Harvard. Newhook led all NCAA freshman with four game-winning goals and three short-handed tallies. His plus-28 ranking was third overall in the NCAA.

Newhook was selected 16th overall in the first round of the 2019 NHL draft by the Colorado Avalanche after two seasons with the Grizzlies. His offensive instincts were evident as he led the B.C. Hockey League with 102 points in 53 games in 2018-19 to be named league MVP after recording 66 points in 42 games and being named BCHL’s top rookie the season before in Victoria. Newhook also had 14 goals and 33 points in 27 Grizzlies playoff games.

“Victoria and the BCHL developed me to get me to the next level,” he said.

Newhook represented Canada at the IIHF world U-18 championship and is a leading contender to make the Canadian roster for the 2021 world junior championship in Edmonton and Red Deer.

If there is a 2021 world juniors.

“These are crazy times,” said Newhook.

Newhook prefers back-to-back development stints and has followed up his two BCHL seasons in Victoria by committing to return to Boston College as a sophomore next season before turning pro as a projected future top-six forward for the Avalanche. That’s probably a wise decision for a guy who is five-foot-11 and 195 pounds.

“I’m working out with weights in the house and going for runs outside,” he said of his pandemic routine, which includes taking classes online.

“I’m playing it by ear and trying to get stronger.”

Seniors in NCAA spring sports have been granted another season of eligibility but not seniors in winter-sport seasons which had already begun, such as hockey and basketball. Newhook said he feels for the Boston College seniors whose NCAA careers have ended in such a fashion.

“I am trying to put myself in their shoes and how I would feel,” he said. “We all believed this was the year for us to win the championship.”

Underclassmen such as Newhook get another chance. The seniors don’t.

Also on Newhook’s mind was the likely prom-less Belmont Secondary Class of 2020. He remembers well his two years at the school as part the Class of 2019.

“It will be hard for them,” he said, of the Belmont students a year behind him.

While Newhook got to hop a ferry to Vancouver and be there in person at Rogers Arena when Colorado selected him in the first round last June, the NHL draft Class of 2020 will likely have to experience the moment online in their living rooms.

Everybody is absorbing loss, small and big, in some form.

“I take it day by day,” said Newhook.

“It [the pandemic] puts sports in perspective. I think we will come back as better people, both players and fans, and more thankful and appreciative of sports.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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