In a previous article, I wrote about Grizzlies alumni attending NCAA schools after they committed to Division I and Division III schools. While many former Victoria players have committed to the NCAA, many others have committed to Canadian universities.
These players are usually the exception instead of the norm simply because many players choose junior A hockey because it allows them to play college hockey in the United States. Major junior players that move to Canadian junior A hockey are unable to play American college hockey – at least not without repercussions. It’s against school recruitment rules.
For this article, I’ll track former Grizzlies at U SPORTS schools over the last 10 seasons and divide the players by position.
The first goaltender on the list is Kurtis Chapman. Before coming to Victoria midway through the 2017-18 season, Chapman played in the Western Hockey League with the Regina Pats and Kootenay Ice.
After finishing his junior career with Victoria in 2018-19, Chapman committed to Mount Royal University. Despite committing to MRU, Chapman never played games for the Cougars men’s team and is currently with the Red Deer Senior Rustlers of the North Central Hockey League.
The second goaltender on the list is Shawn Parkinson, who joined the Grizzlies at the start of 2017-18 from the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League’s Westshore Wolves. After 14 games, the Grizzlies traded Parkinson to the Drayton Valley Thunder of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Part way through 2018-19, the Thunder traded Parkinson to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Melfort Mustangs.
While playing for Melfort, Parkinson committed to Grant MacEwen University but so far, has not played any games for the Griffins men’s team.
The final goaltender on the list is Cole Schwebius. In the past, I’ve written extensively about Schwebius after he joined Victoria from Salmon Arm after spending time with the Silverbacks during the 2020-21 BCHL extended exhibition season. Previously, Schwebius split time in the WHL between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.
This past July, Schwebius committed to the University of British Columbia and joins the Thunderbirds for the 2022-23 U SPORTS season.
The first defender on the list to explore is Cole Noble. He joined the Grizzlies from the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles prior to the 2017-18 season. After two years in Victoria, Noble committed to Royal Military College in Kingston, ON. Over two seasons, Noble has scored six goals and five assists for the Paladins men’s team.
The second blueliner on the list is Cody Van Lierop. He attended Lake Forest Academy in Illinois before coming to Victoria. After three seasons in gold and black, Van Lierop committed to the University of Ottawa. In 2021-22, the Sutton West, ON product played 18 games for the Gee-Gees men’s team, scoring three goals and seven assists.
The final defender to look at is Dane Gibson, who played as a forward during his time in the BCHL. The Grizzlies acquired him from the Cowichan Valley Capitals via trade in June 2014. After one season in Victoria, Gibson headed to the University of Maine in the NCAA.
After two seasons with the Black Bears, Gibson transferred to the University of Calgary. He spent three seasons with the Dinos and is currently in England playing for the Coventry Blaze. In 52 games last season, Gibson notched five goals and 10 assists.
Cam Thompson is the first forward to track from the Grizzlies to U SPORTS. He was with the VIJHL’s Peninsula Panthers during the 2015-16 season before jumping to his hometown Grizzlies. After three seasons with the Grizzlies, Thompson committed to Dalhousie University just ahead of 2019-20.
Last season, Thompson played 15 games for the Tigers and finished with three goals and three assists.
Up next is Nate Looysen. He had one year in the WHL with Kamloops under his belt before signing with the Grizzlies for the 2014-15 season. He eventually split that season between the Grizzlies, Cowichan Valley, and two VIJHL clubs. He was back in the BCHL with Victoria in 2016-17 before committing to Brock University. The Sannichton, BC product was last noted with the Badgers during the 2018-19 season.
The final forward on the list is Teal Burns, who spent parts of two seasons playing for Victoria from 2008 to 2009. He also spent time over the next four seasons with Nanaimo, Powell River, Cowichan Valley, and Alberni Valley in the BCHL as well as Portland, Vancouver, Prince Albert, and Everett in the WHL.
While playing for the Bulldogs to round out the 2012-13 season, Burns committed to the University of Guelph. After two seasons with the Gryphons men’s team, Burns joined the Prince Rupert Rampage of the Central Interior Senior Hockey League.
The road less traveled
As stated above, most Grizzlies players going to college attend NCAA schools. The players going to U SPORTS schools are the exceptions to the norm.
While examining these players, I saw their careers take unusual trajectories. After leaving post-secondary, two of these players joined different senior men’s teams. It gave me food for thought for a future article where I might examine these senior men’s teams as there are likely more former BCHL players playing at that level.