He’s already hoisted two trophies and now he’s chasing a third with the Penticton Vees in the small farming town of Humboldt, Sask.
Hardly where Vernon’s Alex Jewell expected to be in early May after he racked up 22 goals and 61 points in his rookie season with the Junior B Osoyoos Coyotes.
Jewell has played three games for the Vees at the Royal Bank Cup Junior A hockey championship, including a huge 3-1 win Wednesday night over the Portage Terriers of Manitoba.
“It’s a really good experience; the more hockey the better,” said Jewell, after a team breakfast Wednesday morning. “They’re all championship teams, so they’re all good teams and you can’t take a shift off. The goalies are very good.”
Jewell, who marked his 17th birthday from the Elgar Petersen Arena (capacity 1,825) watching the Vees lose 3-2 in overtime to the host Broncos, is playing on a line with Penticton products Cody DePourcq and Grant Nicholson.
“I play right wing and it’s knd of a checking role and a fourth line. We’re getting decent ice time. The atmosphere is good so it gets you motivated. There are 10 to 15 Vees’ fans here, including Cody’s aunt and uncle (Stephan and Cindy) who I lived with for two weeks (when recalled by the Vees).”
Head coach Fred Harbinson expects Jewell to be responsible defensively since the Vees averaged almost six goals a game this BCHL season led by big guns like Mario Lucia, Steven Fogarty, Bryce Gervais, Wade Murphy and Mike Reilly.
“He has played well for the time he has been out,” said Harbinson of the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Jewell. “I like the way he competes and skates. I’m happy with what he brings to the team.”
Loaded with three NHL draft picks, the Vees entered the RBC with the No. 1 roster in the nation. Jewell says they check their egos at the dressing room door.
“Every guy on the team is really humble,” said Jewell, who played minor hockey in Vernon until his second year of Midget when he joined the Okanagan Rockets. “No one’s arrogant and when we are at the rink, it’s all business. I’m lucky to be part of it all.”
The Vees (2-2) rallied for three goals in the third period Wednesday night after falling behind 1-0 in the middle frame. Penticton had to wait until Thursday night to find out which team they play in one of two Saturday semifinals.
Curtis Loik, captain Logan Johnston and Reilly scored for the Vees, who got 25 saves from Michael Garteig, including an all-planet beauty as he reached behind with Portage up 1-0.
“He’s (Jewell) playing on an energy line and he doesn’t look out of place; he looked comfortable last night (Wednesday),” said Vees’ broadcaster Fraser Rodgers.
“He was making some good plays along the wall and made some soft chips. That line had a couple of scoring chances when the Vees were struggling in the second period.”
Jewell, helping the Vees after 81-pointman Connor Reilly had a season-ending surgery after 51 games, drew into the lineup twice in the BCHL playoffs against the Chilliwack Chiefs. He was in civvies when the Vees won the Fred Page Cup over the Powell River Kings, but played in the decisive Game 5 Doyle Cup victory over the AJHL Brooks Bandits.
Jewell is joined in Saskatchewan with Osoyoos teammate Dexter Dancs (67 points with Coyotes), and the two hope to be regulars in Penticton next fall.
They had a blast Monday as the Vees did some fivepin bowling. Jewell laughed that he rolled more than 100 and admitted defeat.
“The Minnesota group kind of won; they’re really good bowlers.”
The winning alley cats – who earned Dairy Queen Blizzards – were Connor and Mike Reilly, Lucia, Fogarty, Nicholson and Travis St. Denis.
“It was good team bonding,” added Jewell, who had 1-5-6 in 10 regular-season games.
The Vees will face either the Soo Thunderbirds, Terriers or Woodstock Slammers in the semis. The final goes Sunday and will be broadcast on TSN.
“This is just a battle of attrition,” said Harbinson. “It (win over Portage) was our 24th playoff game. All the travel, everything else, it’s just been a mental grind. All our guys are finding ways to contribute. We’re in the national championship, we’re down to the final four teams. One more win gets us into the national finals.”