The Greater Vancouver Canadians came up just short in winning their first-ever B.C. Major Midget Hockey League championship last season but the 2012-13 squad has made an impression at the major junior level.
When the Western Hockey League season gets underway tonight, a whopping eight former Canadians will be suiting up for WHL teams.
The group includes Seafair Minor Hockey graduates Glenn Gawd in (Swift Current), Shaun Dosanjh (Vancouver) and Austin Adamson (Saskatoon). A fourth local product - Alex Whitwham - was among the final cuts of the Spokane Chiefs and was re-assigned to the B.C. Junior Hockey League.
Rounding out the Canadians in the WHL are: Adam Musil (Red Deer), Ty Schultz (Medicine Hat), Mitch Walter (Edmonton) and goalies Nathan Alalouf (Saskatoon) and Taz Burman (Red Deer).
Training camp was only a few days old when the Blades were already arranging a billet family and school for Alalouf. The 17-year-old then earned second star honours last week thanks to a 35-save performance in a 4-3 pre-season loss to Regina.
"I felt a lot more comfortable during this game than during my first start," said Alalouf. "Overall I just felt really good out there and I thought it showed in the results at the end of the game."
He already has seen progress in his play just from the quality of play in practice and working with Blades goalie coach and former Detroit Red Wing Tim Cheveldae.
"Both things definitely help a lot. You can get used to the shots at this level through practice every day. It's really nice having Tim out there, too. He knows a lot and can see things that I can't."
Walter's road to the Edmonton Oil Kings line-up took a detour midway through last season when he left Major Midget team to join the Delta Ice Hawks. It was a move to help him prepare for his role of be a third our fourth liner who will provide some grit and be an agitator.
"It was a tough league. There was a lot of fighting, really gritty from first line to fourth line kind of thing," explained Walter. "It was a tough league to play in, and I thought it prepared me well. I just want to be an agitator out there and step up when you need to step up. It's just a role I've always played growing up. I love being hated on the ice, and I just fit into that role perfectly."
He has always been high on the club's radar screen after being selected in the second round of the WHL Bantam Draft two years ago.
"He goes out and stirs it up, plays hard, plays physical," said Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal. "For him, he's just got to get up to speed with the speed of the Western Hockey League, and that's going to come with the conditioning and the experience of the game.
"(With these 17-year-olds) there's going to be a growth with them, a steep learning curve as the season goes along. We've just got to make sure that we're patient with them."
The current edition of the Canadians travels to Victoria this weekend to open the regular season and hosts the Cariboo Cougars (Prince George) next Sunday at the Oval at 11:45 a.m.
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