In two short years with the Nanaimo Clippers, Trevor LeDonne went from a relative unknown to one of the most respected blueliners in the BCHL.
The 21-year-old from Stony Creek, Ontario took his game to another level inside the Port Alberni pod, which included the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Cowichan Valley Capitals, and Victoria Grizzlies.
In addition, LeDonne earned the captaincy from bench boss Darren Naylor ahead of the shortened season. The veteran blueliner believes his game developed by leaps and bounds during his two-year run on Vancouver Island.
“Getting into the rush and creating some offense took a little while. Obviously, coming out here, it is more offensive-minded, so that is something I had to adjust to as well as the speed of the game.”
“When comparing here to Ontario, I think the players in BC have gotten faster and faster over the years and I think the speed and offensive (play) were my two biggest adjustments for sure.”
Due to the close proximity between Nanaimo to Port Alberni, the Clippers elected to make the hour-long trek and spare the added expense of staying in a hotel.
LeDonne states that he and his teammates have a greater appreciation for the condensed schedule.
“Obviously we are really lucky to be able to get some games in. I have a lot of buddies back home in Ontario who haven’t played a game in over a year so it’s been great. We have had some ups and downs throughout the season playing 20 games in about 35 days.”
Playing in an empty rink is “definitely weird”
He admits playing in an empty Weyerhaeuser Arena took some getting used to.
“It’s definitely weird. Those are the nights you live for especially on a Friday night whether you are at the Frank Crane or somewhere else having one or two thousand fans, but playing in an empty rink is something we adjusted to.”
Even with no playoffs on the horizon and no Fred Page Cup to hand out, LeDonne is of the opinion that the biggest lesson to come out of the season is to not take anything for granted.
“I think (I learned to) play each game as if he could be your last because COVID could have cancelled our season at any time. I think that philosophy will set me up for success in the future.”
Another feather in LeDonne’s cap is securing a Division I commitment to the University of St. Thomas, based out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. “There aren’t a lot of scholarships being offered right now because of all the players in the transfer portal so I am really lucky to have secured that spot.”
“I just felt that I was wanted by the coaching staff, which is something you want to feel. Minnesota is one of the best hockey hotbeds in the world so that was a no-brainer especially with all the history.”
#27 Trevor LeDonne Commits to the University of St. Thomas @USTMensHockey.
— Nanaimo Clippers (@ClippersHockey) January 19, 2021
Prior to joining Nanaimo, he spent a pair of seasons in the Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Brantford 99’ers and the Oakville Blades. Like most out of province players, LeDonne has marveled at the picturesque environment on Vancouver Island.
“(I love) being able to come out to the ocean and all the hiking spots so there is something to do every single day if you want to. It’s been amazing honestly, this is somewhere I could live for the rest of my life. I love it out here and it will always have a special place in my heart.”
Memories to last a lifetime
In 2019-20, LeDonne recorded 20 points in 51 games to go along with 87 penalty minutes on a Clippers squad that went 37-17-0-4, claiming the Island Division title.
Despite their playoff run being cut short due to the pandemic, the veteran blueliner has no shortage of memories.
“That was a fun time, we had a lot of support from the community – we even had a bunch of fans come out to Alberni. But, it was our rivalry with Cowichan because some of those games got pretty rough so it felt like old-school hockey. Those are some fond memories that will always last with me.”
LeDonne’s favourite road rink to play in was the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton while his least favourite was the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena in Merritt.
In 20 games this season, he recorded 17 points, tied for fourth among all defensemen in scoring in the BC Hockey League.