A 16-year-old former Sunshine Coast Blues hockey player has started his first season with B.C.’s top midget hockey league.
Jaden Fodchuk, a 5’8” forward, has six games with the Vancouver North West Hawks under his belt. The team competes in the BC Major Midget Hockey League, and so far the rookie has earned one assist.
“He’s had a ton of opportunities,” said Hawks head coach Chris Shaw, adding that he expects Jaden to be scoring soon.
Jaden grew up playing hockey with Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association (SCMHA). “It’s high level playing here and a lot faster than back home,” Jaden told Coast Reporter. “I’m not used to not scoring … but being here, you make better plays.”
Players practise four days a week in addition to workouts and games on weekends. A special school program allows them to study half days and pursue courses online. Jaden, a member of shíshálh Nation, said he’s also adjusting to his new life on the North Shore and seeing his community less often. “I never really caught the bus and now I’m catching the bus every day. I’m making new friends so that’s good and I’m still keeping in touch with my old friends, and they’re supportive.”
Jaden was invited to tryouts earlier this year after being identified as a talent by Brad Wingfield, operations director with SCMHA, who is also involved with New Angle HKY Development – a company owned by Shaw that has run training camps for SCMHA.
“Honestly, he’s one of those players that was off the radar for us – we didn’t really think he would make our hockey team,” Shaw said. But when they invited him to tryouts, “he was a huge standout. It was a no-brainer for us.”
Shaw attributes Jaden’s success to his “high hockey IQ” and work ethic and ability to “accomplish what needs to be done in the game,” despite his smaller-than-average size. “He’s still got a learning curve to be an elite player at our level,” said Shaw, but he’s already on a “trajectory to be a junior hockey player.”
Last spring Jaden was selected to represent Team BC at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Whitehorse, where the team won bronze.
This isn’t the only Fodchuk with hockey talent. Justin Fodchuk, Jaden’s brother, plays forward for the Princeton Posse, a junior “B” team in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Jaden’s brother watches all of his games and gives him advice.
After about a month of regular season play, the Hawks are ranked second with five wins and one loss. The Okanagan Rockets are leading the league.
In April, the top team will represent the Pacific Region with Alberta at the national championships for a chance to win the Telus Cup.
As for his first goal, like his coach, Jaden is confident the points are coming soon, maybe even this weekend when they take on the Kamloops Blazers. “I’ll probably score. I’ll try my best.”