Vernon Viper grad signs with Canucks

Vernon Vipers' grad Mike Zalewski is a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Vernon Vipers’ grad Mike Zalewski is a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

The 21-year-old signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the NHL team. He left the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers early after pocketing 26 points (9-17-26) in 35 games this season.

“It was really tough trying to decide whether to leave school or not,” Zalewski told The Morning Star, Friday afternoon, 20 minutes before the Canucks officially made the announcement. “I felt like it was an opportunity I was ready for; I’m ready to make that next step. I’ll be heading out to spend the rest of the season in Vancouver.”

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward finished tied for first with RPI in shorthanded goals with two. In 75 career NCAA games, Zalewski compiled 21 goals and 47 points, and 75 penalty minutes.

Prior to joining RPI, the New Hartford, N.Y., product played two seasons with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL where he was an assistant captain and led the team in scoring in the 2011-12 season with 75 points (38-37-75) in 60 games. He collected 12 points (6-6-12) in 23 playoff games in 2010-11 to help the Vipers win the Mowat Cup and Doyle Cup and also reach the Royal Bank Cup final in Camrose, Alta.