Warning: do not take too many penalties against the Langley Rivermen when Vitaly Levyy is in the lineup.
The 19-year-old forward, who is committed to Sacred Heart University, is tied for the BC Hockey League lead in power play goals as of this writing. He’s lit the lamp 11 times with the man advantage through 39 games.
“Vitaly is not afraid to go to the dirty spots on the ice,” explained Rivermen associate coach Thomas Koshman. “He takes a beating in front of the net and still manages to find the shot for a tip or turn for a quick rebound. He is a strong leader that puts in the time at practice, and it is paying off for him this year.
Levyy enjoys sophomore success
Levyy’s power play prowess has helped him rack up points this season for the Rivermen. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder leads the team with 18 goals and 32 points in 39 games.
“I think a major contribution to me being able to find success in the first half of this season stems from my training in the off-season,” Levyy said. “During this past off-season, I really zeroed in on my speed and strength, which helps me slow the game down and create plays with pace. However, none of my success would be possible without the help of my teammates and coaching staff, which make playing and learning the game a fun, yet challenging, experience.”
A product of Old Brookville, NY, Levyy joined the BCHL last season after playing for the New Jersey Avalanche in the 18U Atlantic Youth Hockey League. As a rookie for the Rivermen, Levyy had two goals and five assists in 51 games. He has far surpassed those numbers this season.
“When he first came in, he needed to learn our game and our system,” added Koshman. “It took him a little bit to get it. But with his work ethic, tenacity, and love of the game, we knew he would be able to get to where he could be regular for our team.”
He certainly has become that – and more. Levvy and Rivermen teammate Garrett Valk were members of the winning team at the BCHL 3×3 All-Star Tournament.
Rivermen head coach Burt Henderson recruited Levyy to play in Langley. “I was really excited with what Burt had to say about the program and his style of coaching which made the Riv an easy choice,” said Levyy, noting there were certainly adjustments to be made when jumping to the junior A level.
“During my first BCHL season, the biggest thing I had to adjust to was playing a 200-foot game at a faster pace. I really tried to zone in on our D-zone systems and elevate my game off of the puck by going over video and paying close attention to the key details,” described Levyy, who had options before coming to the BCHL, as he was selected by the Lincoln Stars in the ninth round of the 2019 US Hockey League Futures Draft.
“Even though it took longer than I expected, I was able to add those two aspects into my game, which gave my coach the ability to trust me in a bigger role to help us get to the conference finals last year.”
Happy with the Rivermen
After accumulating seven points in the 2021-22 regular season, Levyy scored three goals and had six points in 15 playoff contests. As is the way with junior hockey, several key contributors aged out or moved on from that Rivermen team, which fell to the Nanaimo Clippers in the Coastal Conference finals.
A young Langley crew this season had an 11-24-2-2 record, as of this writing. Returning players have taken on leadership roles for the youthful Rivermen, including Levyy, who serves as an alternate captain.
“We have a good hardworking group who love to play the game… a young team that brings about some good energy. (Levyy) is a great leader on and off the ice – the first one to the rink (and) the last one to leave, always learning the game, and caring for his teammates,” Koshman said.
Rivermen now, Pioneers in the future
Levyy is enjoying his time developing his game and competing in Langley. “What I enjoy most about playing for the Rivermen is the culture. I think last year with the group we had, we built an atmosphere that is really special and to see it continue to grow this year has been amazing.”
Earlier this season, Levyy announced his commitment to play and study at Sacred Heart University. The school is located in Fairfield, CT, and has an enrollment of 10,721, including 6,277 full-time undergraduates. Well-known alumni include actors Kevin Nealon (Saturday Night Live) and John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin on Cheers and a main voice character in most Pixar films). In January, Sacred Heart opened the $70 million Martire Family Arena for Pioneers hockey, its figure skating team, and more.
“What drew me to Sacred Heart was a combination of things, which includes the brand-new rink and facilities, the conversations that I had with the coaching staff, and the location of the beautiful campus,” beamed Levyy. “The Martire Family Arena speaks for itself, but the coaching staff really made me feel comfortable and confident in my choice.”
“After playing a couple of thousand miles away from home in the BCHL, it will be nice to only be an hour and a half drive away from home on campus.” Levyy heads to Sacred Heart this fall, forgoing his final season of junior hockey eligibility to kickstart his college career.