Victoria's Hopkins one of B.C.'s best
Racquet Club bantam player shines at Under-16 hockey championship
By Mario Annicchiarico, Times Colonist
April 19, 2012 3:08 AM
Haydn Hopkins: Puck was jumping off his stick.
Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist , Times Colonist
The motto, it's not how you start but rather how you finish, couldn't be more true for young Haydn Hopkins.
The recently turned 15-year-old potted a pair of goals to lead Team Bruins to a 4-2 win over Team Sabres in the championship final of the Under-16 B.C. Cup hockey tournament, held at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna last weekend.
"He was good," said Bruins head coach Scott Hawthorne, who also runs the South Island Thunderbirds major midget program. "He definitely struggled early in putting the puck in the net the first couple of games.
"He was in the right spot. The puck was just jumping off his stick, but we talked before the [final] game and told him he was in the right spots.
"He worked real hard to get his second goal, the fourth goal of the game. There were like three guys on top of him and he totally got in the clear and buried it, which was really nice for him."
Not to mention the rest of the team which came out victors in the eight-team event.
"It was a lot of fun. The final was just an added bonus," said Hopkins, a member of the Victoria Racquet Club Kings. "It was nice. Obviously, I had some pressure to score and luckily I helped out my team."
The tournament was held in front of quite a presence of Western Hockey League scouts, who had their final opportunity to see B.C. players prior to the upcoming bantam draft, slated for May 3 in Calgary where the Victoria Royals will have the No. 8 and No. 13 selctions in the opening round.
"It's always nice to be able to showcase your skills," said Hopkins, who can play centre and wing, but was slotted down the middle for the championship game. "I wasn't focused on who was in the stands. I was more focused on helping my team."
But there is little doubt there was added pressure.
"He's a quick player, so he attracted attention all weekend, but putting up a couple of goals in the final will silence anyone who says he can't put the puck in the net," Hawthorne said of the five-foot-seven, 155-pounder who helped his bantam Tier I team to provincials where they finished fourth.
The Bruins also featured Joe Gage, Mitchell Stapley and Gavin Rauser of Campbell River. Matthieu Jallabert, of Nanaimo, and Victoria's Rob Martin and Brodie Smith - Racquet Club teammates of Hopkins' - were on the secondplace Sabres' club.
A total of 18 players represented the Island at the tournament which draws dozens of WHL scouts.
"It couldn't have gone any better," said Hawthorne, who was an assistant coach at last year's U-16 B.C. Cup and played in it in 2001. Other notables who have competed in the tournament include National Hockey Leaguers Brent Seabrook and Brett Connolly.
"It was a good group of guys," said Hawthorne, who took his group out bowling on a team-building excursion. "None of the guys know each other, so it was nice to have some laughs together and get them away from the rink for a few hours. The team that wins this is the team that comes together the quickest. The coaches put a lot of importance in that."
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