A trio of Abbotsford Minor Hockey prospects played prominent roles for Team B.C. at the Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup in Moose Jaw.
Jake Virtanen, Matthew Revel and Mitchell Skapski combined to score eight of the 13 goals that Team B.C. tallied in the tournament.
They were all teammates with the Abbotsford Hawks Bantam team that won silver at the provincials last year, and are also members of the Yale Hockey Academy. Their coach there, Billy Wilms, said he was expecting big things from the trio – particularly Virtanen. He is a natural scorer who was drafted first overall in the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft by the Calgary Hitmen
Virtanen had an immediate impact, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in the first game of the tourney against host Saskatchewan. It was the first of five goals for Virtanen.
“He’s explosive, his top speed is scary, and he hurts goalies with just his wrist shot,” said Wilms. “He’s the total package.
Revel and Skapski are both high energy players with great skating ability. Revel was taken second overall in the first-ever BCHL affiliate draft, taken by Chilliwack, while Skapski was a fourth rounder in the WHL Bantam Draft, picked by Portland.
Skapski excels on the forecheck, and creates turnovers for his linemates, and Revel is a gifted playmaker, said Wilms.
In their second game B.C. lost 2-1 to the Alberta squad that would go on to take gold. Virtanen had B.C.’s only goal.
Next they played Manitoba and lost 6-4, setting up the bronze medal matchup against Saskatchewan. They won 5-4.
Wilms said they did Abbotsford Minor Hockey and the Yale Academy proud. Their impact “says a lot about his community as a hockey town.”