Matt Kowalski went into the Christmas break as the leading pointgetter in the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League.
The 16-year-old Vernon product will wear No. 24 for the B.C. Hockey League Nanaimo Clippers tonight when they play the Cowichan Valley Capitals in Duncan.
“I skated yesterday (Monday) and we have another practice today (Tuesday),” said Kowalski. “They’re all a little bigger and stronger but I can keep up (skating).”
Approached about joining ex-Viper head coach Mike Vandekamp in Nanaimo in early December, Kowalski earned his first career BCHL point in a 7-5 win over the Merritt Centennials on Dec. 11 and decided to sign with the Clippers.
“I honestly didn’t think this was going to happen,” said Kowalski, who compiled 17 goals and 42 points with the Okanagan Rockets. “This is a real surprise.”
Matt is billeting with the same family his father, Scott, stayed with during two seasons with Nanaimo from 1990-92. He will attend Grade 11 at Woodlands Secondary. Matt was skating on a line with 20-year-old Corey Renwick and 19-year-old Chris Dodero in practice.
Kowakski was named the BCMML’s Player Of The Month for November and feels that honour may have drawn extra interest from the Clippers.
“It’s obviously tough to see one of our own go, in saying that we couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity Matt has been given,” said Rockets GM Braeden Pistawka. “Ours and Matt’s goal this season was to develop his skills in order to make the jump to junior next season and it’s great to see him being rewarded for his hard work in the first half of the season.”
Kowalski has played one game with Nanaimo this season, earning his first career BCHL point in a 7-5 win against the Merritt Centennials on Friday, December 11th. Matt will join the Clippers in time for their game on Friday against the Prince George Spruce Kings.
Said Rockets head coach Jason Williamson: “Matt averaged just under two (2) points per game in November, with 13 points on a seven (7) game point streak. He also managed to achieve a 98 percent average on his first term report card, balancing academics with athletics.”