TJ Dumonceaux sees himself being CEO of some big company in the future.
The 20-year-old heart and soul alternate captain of the Vernon Vipers put that plan in motion by signing a letter of intent with the NCAA Division 1 Bentley University Falcons. The Kelowna product committed sight unseen.
“I’ll fly down right after playoffs and check it out,” said Dumonceaux, who has 26 goals and 44 points in his third B.C. Hockey League year with Vernon.
“I just know it’s one of the best business schools in the country. It’s ranked in the top-four. I also talked to Tyler Krause and Max French (Kelowna products) who play there and they said the rink is like Merritt’s, but the city’s unreal and the school’s top notch. It’s 25 minutes to downtown Boston so it’s gonna be sweet.”
The campus is in Waltham, Mass. and the Falcons compete in the Atlantic Hockey Association against schools such as Air Force, RIT and Robert Morris.
Dumonceaux is the fifth BCHLer this season to commit to Bentley along with Penticton’s Cody DePourcq, West Kelowna’s Jonathan Desbiens and Brett Mennear and Surrey’s Andy Chugg.
He is the seventh Viper to lock up a scholarship this year.
Also on the current Falcons roster are BCHL alums Max Weinstein (Vipers), Andrew Gladiuk, Alex Grieve, Matt Maher and Jayson Argue.
Dumonceaux, a fierce bodychecker, is second in Viper goal scoring and fourth in points. He rang up 7-13-20 last season and was hampered by a knee injury earlier this year.
“I would call myself a hard-working two-way player who leads by example rather than by being vocal,” said Dumonceaux. “(Viper head coach Ferner) Mark has taught me a lot about where to be positionally and to pick my spots with my hits.”
Dumonceaux played Major Midget with the Okanagan Rockets before ringing up 18 goals and 50 points with the Junior B Kelowna Chiefs, who lost the KIJHL playoff final against Dallas Calvin and the Beaver Valley Nite Hawks in 2012.
He was recruited by late Viper head scout Larry Black, and compiled 8-8-16 his rookie campaign.
“He’s a worker, he can play at both ends,” said Ferner, of the speedy Dumonceaux, an extremely fit 5-foot-10, 186-pounder.
“Typically, you look at a player like that and he doesn’t take too many shifts off. There’s a time and place for big hits and he plays hard and plays it the right way, but even penalty killing, he finishes his checks deep in the zone and he doesn’t need to do that. He’s young and still learning. He has the ability to change the outcome of a game.”
Dumonceaux leads the Vipers with a dozen powerplay snipes and five game winners. He also drew interest from the Clarkson Golden Knights in Potsdam, N.Y.
Dumonceaux, who used to love freestyle skiing before hockey got serious, enjoys wake surfing and a little golf in the summer.
He had a frightening kidney virus shortly after the Royal Bank Cup last spring.
“I spent a week in hospital and they put me on antibiotics. It was quite the scare.”
Meanwhile, the Vipers brushed back the stubborn Trail Smoke Eaters 6-3 before 925 fans Wednesday night at Cominco Arena.
The Smokies outshot the Vipers 17-15 in the first period before Vernon simplified their system and enjoyed a 29-13 shot advantage over the final 40 minutes.
“Trail’s a good team and they wanna win as bad as we do,” said Ferner. “We have a group that sits back and waits to see what kind of game it’s going to be. Trail wanted to get into a track meet with us and we’re not the kind of team who gives up 17 shots in a period. The kids heard about it after the first period and then we were better.”
Riley Brandt bagged his 12th and 13th goals of the season to give Vernon a 2-0 lead after the first period.
Call-up Michael Roberts (2nd), Nicholas Rasovic (6th), Mackenzie Bauer (5th) and Colton McCarthy (8th), into an empty net, also scored for the Snakes.
Kienan Scott (13th), Dallas Calvin (15th) and Jake Lucchini (32nd) answered for the Smokies, who are 15th overall at 18-31-0-5.
Vernon is third at 35-16-1-3, one point back of the Nanaimo Clippers. Jarrod Schamerhorn improved to 22-12-1.
“Schammy played the best of anybody; he gave us a chance to win,” said Dumonceaux. “It wasn’t our best game and we can’t pick up any bad habits with the playoffs coming up. We have to play much better this weekend.”
The Vipers host the Smokies tonight at Kal Tire Place with their awards ceremony following on the ice. The Shirts Off Their Back third jersey auction will also be completed.
Vernon visits the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Saturday night and concludes the regular season next Friday in Penticton against the first-place Vees. Penticton is ranked No. 6 in the nation.
Viper goalie Danny Todoyschuk is in sick bay and backed up Schamerhorn in Trail. North Okanagan Knight Mitch Profeit – named MVP by his team – has been attending practice and is on stand-by.