An instrumental player in the Kootenay Ice’s run to the Memorial Cup in 2011 is the latest recruit to the University of British Columbia (UBC) men’s hockey program.
Winger Joe Antilla from Madeira Park has committed to playing for the Thunderbirds in 2012-13.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun playing for a new team, a new coach and in new systems,” said Antilla. “I feel I can bring new energy, a hard work ethic and championship-calibre play to UBC. It’ll be cool to see how our team does and where we go with it all.”
The 6’2”, 220-pound forward just completed his fifth season with the Western Hockey League’s Ice.
In 340 regular season games with the Cranbrook-based team, Antilla recorded 56 goals and 84 assists for a total of 140 points.
During the 2011 playoffs, he scored nine goals, eight assists and 17 points in 19 games, helping Kootenay to the WHL championship and an appearance at the Memorial Cup tournament.
Antilla notched three points in five games for the Ice at the Memorial Cup.
In September 2011, he also attended the training camp of the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks.
“Joe brings instant leadership and a pure power forward to our group,” said UBC head coach Milan Dragicievc. “He knows how to win, has good size, an excellent work ethic and played for the same organization for the past five years. He will be relied upon to do the same things for the Thunderbirds and bring his winning experience to our program.
“We are very excited to have Joe Antilla be a huge part of our program.”
Not only will attending UBC allow Antilla to gain a world-class education, it will also bring him closer to his family on the Sunshine Coast.
“It will be good to have my parents and family members come to the games and check it all out,” Antilla said.
He has been accepted in to the UBC School of Kinesiology.
“It’s going to be different. Five years here [in Cranbrook] is a long time, a lot of good memories going to high school here, living with my billets, all my friends I came to know, my teammates and the championship that I won here,” said Antilla in an interview with the Daily Townsman when the Ice were eliminated in April by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the first round of the 2012 WHL playoffs. “It’s going to be a big change for me. It’s time to go out into the real world and hopefully it all works out for me.”
Antilla is the second Coast player to play with UBC in recent years. Garden Bay native Kyle Bruce suited up for the T-birds after playing in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders and Kamloops Blazers. He’s currently playing with the Dundee Stars of the Elite Ice Hockey League in Europe.
— With files from Trevor Crawley, Daily Townsman