Brian Drewry / Times Colonist
JUNE 25, 2019 10:17 PM
Kosta Manikis has his mind set on college hockey and the pros.
So when the Richmond Hill, Ont., native got a chance to come to a junior team that had one NHL draft pick on it last season and just produced three more, he said, where do I sign?
So the 17-year-old Manikis will pack his bags in mid-August and head west to the Victoria Grizzlies where he hopes to develop his game in what he considers the best Junior A league in the country.
“I talked to a lot of people and they said if you want to progress and develop for the next level, the B.C. Hockey League is the place to be and Victoria is such a class organization from top to bottom that you have to jump at this chance,” said the six-foot-one, 185-pound centre, who spent last season in the Ontario Junior A Hockey League with the Stouffville Spirit and Toronto Jr. Canadiens.
“I visited Victoria last March during the playoffs and the whole thing is run like a pro team, with on- and off-ice training and the way they treat the players and stuff, so I’m really excited about coming out west and having a really good year.”
It didn’t hurt that he has the same advisor as the most talked-about Grizzlie over the past couple of seasons.
“I have the same advisor as [first-round NHL draft pick] Alex Newhook and both of the them highly recommended Victoria and said it’s a beautiful city to play in,” added Manikis.
Manikis, who’ll turn 18 in August, is coming off a strong season in Ontario. He scored 18 goals and 29 assists in 48 games split between Souffville and the Jr. Canadiens. He also brings a physical presence to the Grizzlies having racked up 104 penalty minutes in the regular season and another 14 in five playoff games.
“I was traded from Stouffville to Toronto at the [trade] deadline because Stouffville wasn’t having a very good season and Toronto was looking to secure a playoff spot, which we did,” Manikis said.
“I think I bring a strong physical game up the middle and can create offence as well.”
Having already secured the services of big, physical defenceman Jayden Struble, who was selected in the second round of the NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens last weekend, Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon wanted to add some grit up front as well, to compliment talented forwards such as veterans Marty Westhaver and Kyle McGrath and newcomers Brendan Bowie, Chase McInnis and Cody Monds.
“Kosta is a pure centreman who plays a complete game,” said Didmon, who was in Vancouver over the weekend to see out-going Grizzlies Newhook (Colorado), Alex Campbell (Nashville) and Carter Berger (Florida), as well as Struble have their names announced at Rogers Arena.
“I’ll look to him to play like a veteran at both ends of the ice and he’s a real hard-nosed player.”
Manikis also has an NCAA scholarship secured, as he’s expected to join Clarkson University in the fall of 2020, following in the footsteps of BCHL rookie of the year Campbell, who hails from Montreal.
“I actually called Alex to congratulate him on being drafted and he had nothing but great things to say about his time in Victoria,” Manikis said.
“He also said the winters are way better than out east, so I can’t wait for that.”
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