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MacDonald and Moriello provide rookie offensive punch for Warriors

Jaiden Moriello and Ben MacDonald have gone from being foes in Massachusetts to high scoring rookie linemates for the West Kelowna Warriors.

MacDonald is from Weston, MA, while Moriello hails from Saugus, MA. Moriello’s Kimball Union Academy competed against MacDonald and Noble & Greenough School in the prep hockey ranks.

“Ben MacDonald and I have played against each other many times and being in the same league for a couple of years, I heard of how great of a player he is for a while now. But I first met him in West Kelowna,” said Moriello.

The first-year forward duo quickly gelled this season. They have become important point producers for the BC Hockey League’s Warriors. As of this writing, Moriello led the team with 25 goals and 55 points. MacDonald is second to him with 22 goals.

Warriors general manager and head coach Simon Ferguson said the 2003-born Moriello and the 2004-born MacDonald think the game at a high level, are great skaters, and have the ability to shoot the puck.

“Both players worked very hard in their off-ice program. (They) are students in their crafts,” the coach explained. “Both would come out early and stay late taking shots, making passes, working on the details of their game.”

MacDonald and Moriello are just two members of the Warriors’ group of talented first-year players. As of this writing, six of their top 11 scorers are rookies. The others are Luke Devlin with 37 points, Felix Caron with 24, and Jake Bernadet at 22.

“With only four to five returning players from the previous year, it was very important to find and recruit players who could come in and step up right away,” said Ferguson. “Sometimes you find first-year players who can get it (done) and sometimes they come from other leagues or trades. We felt we had a good mix of both and got good scoring up and down the lineup.”

MacDonald has an Ivy League future

After their prep careers, MacDonald and Moriello both opted to head west to the BCHL.

“I was really drawn due to the fast pace and skill of the league,” said MacDonald. “I also had heard great things about the league and the West Kelowna Warriors from many friends.

“The league has helped me in a lot of ways, but the level of competition is the biggest thing for me. Making the jump to the BCHL from New England Prep has challenged me to become a better player and has really helped me get ready for college next year.”

MacDonald has certainly adjusted and been able to contribute at the junior A level. As of March 25, he was fifth among BCHL rookies with 50 points.

“He is one of the best players and linemates I have ever played with in my career, and he makes my game a whole lot easier out there and creates chance after chance for our line,” Moriello said of MacDonald. “He is a special player, and it is so fun to not only play with him every shift in games but also in practice. We always compete together. We are also very good friends, and our games and personalities match well so we are always on the same page. He is an outstanding player.”

Last year MacDonald was selected in the third round, 91st overall, at the National Hockey League Draft by the Seattle Kraken. He attended development camp for Seattle last summer. His grandfather Lowell played in the NHL in the 1960s and 1970s.

The next step in MacDonald’s hockey journey could be following in his parents’ footsteps and going to the Ivy League. He has committed to playing at Harvard University. At the Cambridge, MA school, his father Lane won the Hobey Baker Award as the best US college hockey player and helped the Crimson win the 1989 national championship. Lane and Warriors co-owner John Murphy were Harvard teammates. MacDonald’s mother Wendy played college hockey at Cornell University.

“I am really looking forward to the combination of a rigorous academic environment with a top-ranked hockey program,” MacDonald said of Harvard. “I know that Harvard attracts talented students from across the globe, and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to join that environment.”

Moriello to go to UMass Lowell

Like MacDonald, Moriello also plans to return to his home state to play at the NCAA Division I level. He has committed to suit up for the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks.

“The reputation of the school and their blue-collar hockey program has always excited me most,” said Moriello. “I will be studying political science while being only 25 minutes from my home and my family, which is important to me. I’m very excited to play for head coach Norm Bazin for one of the best schools in the most competitive conference in the NCAA.”

Moriello has certainly impacted the Warriors this season. He is second in BCHL rookie scoring with 55 points, as of March 25.

“’Jaido’ has been really fun to play with this year,” MacDonald said of his fellow rookie linemate. “He is a natural goal scorer and is extremely competitive, which is what makes him such a good player and so easy to play with. Away from the rink, he has become one of my best friends on the team, which has only helped us on the ice.”

Moriello has enjoyed his first season in West Kelowna. “Coming to play for the Warriors has been nothing but a blessing for me as a player and a person. This organization has made it very easy to transition into junior (hockey) with great fans, coaches, owners, and players to help me develop both on and off the ice. I am grateful for everything they have done for me in this amazing community.”