Former Victoria Grizzlies captain Alex Newhook during Team Canada selection camp in Red Deer. Newhook will play forward for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. (Hockey Canada/Rob Wallator)

Former Victoria Grizzlies captain Alex Newhook during Team Canada selection camp in Red Deer. Newhook will play forward for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. (Hockey Canada/Rob Wallator)

Former Victoria hockey star Alex Newhook cracks Team Canada

After a month in Red Deer, Newhook ready for World Juniors

In what has essentially been a month-long quarantine in Red Deer, Alta., former Victoria Grizzlies star Alex Newhook has had to find many ways to kill time.

And it doesn’t include the go-to teenage time burner of video games.

“Not for me, not a big video games guy. I hear the other guys shouting and screaming [from their rooms],” said the first-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.

This past month has been the latest test for Newhook, whose patience and hard work paid off on Friday as the 19-year-old was selected to Team Canada’s 2021 World Junior Championships team that will play in Edmonton. The team remains in Red Deer but will head to Edmonton soon for exhibition games and Christmas Day until Jan. 5.

Newhook played for the Grizzlies from 2017 to 2019. In 2017-18 he won BCHL rookie of the year. In 2018-19 he served as the Grizzlies captain and led the BCHL in scoring with 28 goals and 102 points in 53 games. Colorado then picked him 16th overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

West Shore’s Dylan Garand, who plays goalie for the Kamloops Blazers, also made Team Canada.

READ ALSO: Newhook heads to worlds as BCHL MVP, top scorer

The World Juniors tournament itself is on thin ice as Hockey Canada had two players test positive and sent five home as “unfit” to play. The Swedish camp sent away four players for testing positive for COVID-19, the U.S.A. team three players and Germany two players. Even the International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel tested positive this week.

“In Red Deer the bubble is confined and we’re not taking any chances with the scare we had. We travel to Edmonton on Sunday, then we isolate for five days again. Then the bubble is similar to what the NHL did for the playoffs,” Newhook said.

With everyone under mandatory two-week quarantine and further isolation in Edmonton, tournament organizers believe the event will go on.

It makes for a very happy Newhook who was cut from training camp ahead of last year’s tournament, despite scoring the only goal in an exhibition game against U-Sports all-star players.

“The feeling is crazy. It’s a lot of emotions going through the head and a lot of excitement. It’s been a long year, I’m ready to go and ready to defend the gold medal,” Newhook said.

The bitterness of being cut from last year’s team – and then watching that team win gold – was only fuel for Newhook. He used it as further motivation and turned in a monster rookie season as an 18-year-old with Boston College in the NCAA. He ended the year as Boston College’s top scorer with 19 goals and 23 assists for 42 points in 34 games.

“Last year was a learning experience and I was definitely disappointed. Looking back, it helped me find a new gear with Boston College,” he said.

READ ALSO: Five Victoria Grizzlies players invited to World Juniors selection camp

Newhook has represented Canada regionally and nationally for most of his teenage life, having played at the U17 national championships and at the U18 and World Junior A championships.

He left Boston and arrived in Red Deer about a month ago and went straight into isolation and quarantine. Just when they thought they’d get some freedom everything was shut down again as Team Canada invites tested positive.

“It was tough. I’ve done some Zoom workouts. The team set up bikes in the room, and we have social hours and team meetings that keep us busy,” Newhook said.

As for food, it’s all hotel room service. Three meals a day and a snack.

On the ice, Newhook has been taking line rushes with Dylan Holloway (an Edmonton Oilers first-round pick) of University of Wisconsin, who is the only other NCAA player to make the cut, and Jakob Pelletier (a Calgary Flames first-round pick) of Val-d’Or in the Quebec major-junior league.

“I know most of the guys from over the years, having been around the Hockey Canada programs of excellence,” Newhook said.

Canada opens the 2021 World Junior Championship on Dec. 26 against Germany at 3 p.m. PST. All games are broadcast on TSN.

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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