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Newhook celebrates both coasts as second Victoria Grizzlies player to hoist Stanley Cup in four years

Avalanche centre and former Victoria Grizzlies captain Alex Newhook had four points in 12 playoff games. DAVID ZALUBOWSKI, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Alex Newhook, a native of St. John’s, N.L., who went from rock to rock to star with the ­Victoria Grizzlies, will carry with him a bit of both the Canadian East and West coasts as he rides in the Stanley Cup parade Thursday in Denver.

Of the four major North American pro sports championships, the Stanley Cup has the most ripple effects and furthest tentacle reach into Canadian communities. When Colorado defenceman Bowen Byram passed the Cup to Avalanche forward Newhook this week after their Game 6 victory in Tampa over the Lightning, fans of the Victoria Royals saw one of their most feared WHL nemesis in the former Vancouver Giants rearguard while fans of the Grizzlies of the BCHL saw their former captain in his most glorious moment as he become only the third Newfoundlander to win the Stanley Cup.

It was the second alumni Stanley Cup-connection moment in four years for the Grizzlies franchise following forward Tyler Bozak winning the Cup in 2019 with the St. Louis Blues.

“To have two players in four years lift the Cup is quite ­something and speaks well for our program,” said Grizzlies majority owner and governor Ron Walchuk.

You can throw in a best-on-best Olympic gold medal as well from Sochi 2014 for former ­Grizzlies forward Jamie Benn.

“And with Cale Makar [Avs blue-liner and Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP], it shows Junior A hockey is alive and well and says a lot about the college route,” said Walchuk.

Although Newhook will take the Stanley Cup to St. John’s, his two seasons in Victoria are firmly imprinted on his career as he was BCHL top rookie in 2017-18 and league MVP in 2018-19 before heading to Boston College.

“We are very proud of what Alex has accomplished” said Walchuk, of the Belmont Secondary graduate, who keeps in touch with his former team.

“He is a fine young man and first-class individual. He is so fond of his time here that he has become one of our best recruiters.”

Newhook, silver medallist with Canada at the 2021 world juniors, is among three BCHL alumni on the Avalanche along with former Surrey Eagles defenceman Devon Toews and former Salmon Arm Silverbacks blue-liner Josh Manson.

“I can’t describe it. It’s crazy. It won’t sink in for a while. It didn’t feel real,” Newhook told Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman and Russ Amber.

Three former WHL players will be in the Stanley Cup parade as goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Red Deer Rebels and forward Darren Helm out of the Medicine Hat Tigers will join the former Royals’ rival Byram.

Meanwhile, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar became the first person to guide teams to the ECHL Kelly Cup, AHL Calder Cup and NHL Stanley Cup championships. Six of Bednar’s seven years as assistant or head coach with the South Carolina Stingrays overlapped in the ECHL with the Victoria Salmon Kings. A 2009 playoff loss to the Alaska Aces denied the Salmon Kings a meeting with Bednar’s Stingrays, who bested the Aces 4-3 in that year’s Kelly Cup final. Bednar has given hope for all those toiling on minor-league benches. That includes the likes of Mark Morrison, who was head coach of the Salmon Kings for five seasons and went on to become assistant coach for four seasons in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks, and is now head coach of the Manitoba Moose of the AHL.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Bednar. “The best advice I ever got early in my career is don’t be in a rush to climb the ladder and go somewhere else. It’s about honing your craft.”