As the Sunshine Coast prepares to host its second series of Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL) showcase games, Laszlo Istvanffy is looking forward to playing on local ice.
On Jan. 28, Istvanffy of Gibsons will be putting on a new jersey for the PJHL game between the Richmond Sockeyes and Port Moody Panthers at the the Gibsons and Area Community Centre. The next day, the puck will drop for the Sockeyes versus the Grandview Steelers.
The 17-year-old forward usually lives in North Vancouver with a host family, and is excited for his friends and family to watch him play at home in Gibsons.
“I’m really excited to be back in my hometown,” he said. It will also be his first time playing with the PJHL, an opportunity he wasn’t expecting but is looking forward to.
“I think Laszlo will be the very first local player to ever play the junior hockey game on the Sunshine Coast,” Rick Hopper of the Sunshine Coast Junior Hockey Society (SCJHS) told Coast Reporter.
Istvanffy has been playing for the Vancouver North West Hawks for three seasons, during which he led his team to win the B.C. Elite Hockey League U17 AAA championship when he was captain in 2022. He is currently playing for the Hawks’s U18 AAA team and is affiliated with the Sockeyes. When the Jan. 28 game was being scheduled for the Coast, Istvanffy got the call.
Doug Paterson, the owner of the Richmond Sockeyes team, the president of the ownership group and the chairman of the steering committee for the league, spoke highly of Istvanffy’s commitment travelling to train with the Sockeyes during spring and summer prospect camps.
“He’s having a good year with the Hawks,” Paterson said. “When we recognized we're going to have a showcase over there [in Gibsons], we thought it was only fair to insert Laszlo for a game, because he's earned it… We want him to have fun and his call-up is well deserving.”
“I think it's fantastic,” Hopper said. “There's been a lot of kids from the area who play junior hockey, they just haven't had the opportunity to play at home. It's a historic event. It really bodes well for the future” as well as ongoing efforts to create a local junior hockey club.
Paterson, who attended first PJHL series the Sunshine Coast hosted, said this next set of games gives the Coast the opportunity to see the league in action and to see if the area is ready to make its own commitment.
While SCJHS is hoping for a similar turnout of more than 500 people each night at the first games it hosted in October, pre-sales have not been quite as strong yet. Tickets are available at www.scjhs.ca.