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Salmon Arm Silverbacks alumni profile: Taro Hirose

 

They are currently four active National Hockey League players whose careers stem from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks organization. Among these alumni are Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, Columbus Blue Jackets centre Riley Nash, and New Jersey Devils veteran centre Travis Zajac. The latest inductee into the active alumni list is Taro Hirose.

Hirose achieved his alumni status in the 2018-19 season where he signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Mar. 12, 2019.

Just one week later, Hirose saw his dreams come true as he played his very first NHL game for the Red Wings. During his first matchup against the New York Rangers, he wasted no time making an impression. In the first period, he gathered an assist on a goal by Frans Nielsen to put him in the point column right away. 

The early stages

Hirose grew up in Calgary, Alberta where he first began his hockey aspirations playing for his community association, Blackfoot minor hockey. With his hard work and dedication through minor hockey, he ended finding himself a spot playing for his community quadrant, the Calgary North Stars. With ambitions to develop his career and further his skill, he took his abilities to the Edge School for athletes.

This is where Hirose started turning heads. During his three-year U18 career at Edge, he recorded a total of 163 points across 109 regular-season outings at both the U18 varsity and prep level. 

These stats would account for an overall 1.5 point per game average during his midget career at the Edge School. His efforts with his team paid off in 2013 as Edge went on to win the CSSHL U18 prep division championship.

From junior to college

Hirose’s impressive U18 career led him to the great town of Salmon Arm to play for the Silverbacks. His presence in the BCHL was short and sweet as he played two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Only playing in two BCHL seasons wasn’t because Hirose couldn’t make the cut, but because he was already bridging the gap into college.

Hirose played two full seasons for the Silverbacks, totalling 116 games and 121 points. College scouts saw Hirose was ready to challenge his skills and make the jump to the NCAA and he committed to the Michigan State Spartans of the Big Ten Conference for the following 2016-17 season. 

He saw college hockey as an opportunity to further his career. Hirose’s three seasons playing for the Spartans might be his most impressive of all, and his hard work definitely showed.

Across a total of 106 games at the collegiate level, he notched 116 points during three seasons. These totals proved Hirose’s skills as he was a point-per-game player at the U18, junior and collegiate levels.

He finished second in scoring on Michigan State in his freshman season but that didn’t prove to be enough for the young forward. His following season he was even stronger, leading the Spartans with 42 points in 34 games. 

The sky was the limit and his third and final season with the Spartans may be his most impressive one overall. He posted a stunning 50 points in just 34 games, which hadn’t been done by a Spartan since John-Michael Liles did in 2002-03.

His 50 point season saw Hirose lead the NCAA in points, points-per-game, assists, multi-point games, and three-point games. This breakout season eventually landed him an entry-level contract with the Red Wings.

Awards and accomplishments

Throughout his career, Hirose caught a lot of attention and his hard work has definitely paid off. Not only did he build a legacy with his junior and college career, but it is also buoyed by a multitude of awards.

He was awarded most valuable player of the 2012-13 season when the Edge U18 prep team won the championship. After his BCHL rookie season in 2014-15, he was named Silverbacks rookie of the year. These were just a couple of reputable awards from his high school and junior years, but the list is even longer for his collegiate career.

Hirose was named to the All-Big Ten second team in his sophomore season with the Spartans, which was just a glimpse into the following year.

In his final season with the team in 2018-19, he left nothing behind, being awarded the All-Big Ten first team, Big Ten scoring champion, Big Ten player of the year, and AHCA West first-team all-American. 

It is no question that Hirose has had a reputable career that will hopefully only continue to grow and develop as he is on the cusp of being an NHL regular. This past October, the Red Wings extended his contract with a one-year, two-way pact.

Hirose is not the only one in his family making a name for himself in the hockey scene. Younger brother Akito was captain of Salmon Arm this past season and recently graduated from the Silverbacks after four BCHL seasons with the team.

The younger Hirose brother chalked up a handful of accomplishments with the Silverbacks and made his college debut this fall with Minnesota State University (Mankato).