Owen Stanley/Coquitlam Express

Garzone is a sophomore success for the Express

The calendar hasn’t even turned to 2024 and Coquitlam Express forward Drew Garzone has already racked up more points than he did as a rookie in 2022-23.

The 2004-born forward from Dover, Massachusetts scored eight goals and recorded 20 points in 42 games last season. Already in the 2023-24 campaign, the 6-foot-1, 179-pounder has surpassed that point total. As of the BCHL’s holiday break, he had 11 goals, 18 assists, and 29 points in 25 games.

“Last year I was relied upon to be solid defensively,” Garzone said. “With some more opportunities this year, I am finally starting to feel the confidence I always had. I have been lucky to play on a great line with Jake Manfre and Cole Melady, where I think we have built up some great chemistry. Our power play is also finally starting to click so I’m excited for the rest of the year.”

Garzone holds the team lead in points while Melady, his linemate, is two points behind.  He has 17 points in 13 games since joining the squad in a trade from the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Manfre is third on the Coquitlam squad with 26 points and a team-high 14 goals.

“When I first recruited Drew, it was his IQ of the game and his work ethic that showcased in the games I watched. Since then, he has continued to improve his game overall, and over the summer he worked hard to come back to become a top-six player on our team,” explained Express General Manager Tali Campbell. “His strengths continue to be his IQ and work ethic but on top of that, he has found a way to play better defensively. Overall, we are impressed with where he’s gotten his game to.”

Campbell noted that an injury set Garzone back a little bit last season. “He was able to find himself a role that brought energy to the game and killed penalties. In his exit meeting, we had a very candid conversation (about) what he had to do in the offseason to become a top-six player. He did everything we asked, he became a harder player to play against, he isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas, and overall has stepped up his game.”

Garzone is enjoying life on and off the ice in the Lower Mainland.

“In my time with the Express these past two seasons I have been extremely lucky to have been a part of super tight-knit locker rooms,” he said. “I was able to meet my best friends and always love going to the rink for practice with all the guys. I also have had incredible billets and get to live in an awesome location just outside of Vancouver. I couldn’t have asked for more from my junior hockey experience.”

Developed at Deerfield

In his three seasons before coming to the British Columbia Hockey League, Garzone suited up for Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts. The co-ed boarding school has produced such National Hockey League players as Sam Lafferty, Alex Killorn, Marty Reasoner, and Ben Lovejoy as well as former U.S. women’s national team player Molly Shaus.

While there Garzone also spent time in other programs including with the 15U and 16U AAA Cape Cod Whalers and the 18U AAA South Shore Kings. At Deerfield Academy, Garzone competed in lacrosse and misses playing the sport.

“I feel like it helped me develop as a better overall athlete,” Garzone said. “I enjoyed the short break from the ice in the spring playing another sport that I love. It also always made me that much more excited to get back on the ice and train for the next hockey season.”

Bound for the Ivy League in New Jersey

While Deerfield Academy is his past and the Express is his present, Princeton University is Garzone’s future. In 2021, he committed to the New Jersey-based Ivy League institution. Although unsure of exactly what he would like to do when he is older, Garzone plans to major in economics.

“My family and I have always valued academics, so growing up, Princeton was always one of my dream schools,” he said. “I’ve had great conversations with the coaching staff and heard great things from current players. They’ve had a good group of guys come through Coquitlam these past couple of years. I am excited to get to school and try to help Princeton make some noise in the ECAC next year.”

While Garzone is headed to the Ivy League, his parents developed themselves academically and athletically at one of Hidden Ivies. Both of his folks attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.

His mother Veronica played soccer there for four seasons. She earned various awards at the institution and went on to play semi-professionally. Garzone’s father, Matt, played hockey at Colgate and then went onto the professional ranks for three seasons. A defender, he suited up in the ECHL for the Richmond Renegades, Knoxville Cherokees, Louisiana IceGators, Wheeling Nailers, and the South Carolina Stingrays.

“(My dad) has always been a role model for me ever since he put me on skates at two years old,” Garzone said. “I always enjoyed having him on the bench in youth hockey and continue to look up to him daily. With my mom also playing soccer at Colgate, and semi-professionally, I always knew I wanted to play hockey at the D1 level. They have helped me understand what it takes to get to the next level.”