Kings land their own pri­vate Jett

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Ted CLARKE Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

There’s no rule in the B.C. Hockey League which pre­vents goal­tenders from be­ing des­ig­nated team cap­tains.

So don’t be too sur­prised if Prince Ge­orge Spruce Kings goalie Jett Alexan­der gets a ‘C’ stitched on his jersey.

Jett Alexan­der drove all the way from his home east of Toronto for the start of train­ing camp and has only been in Prince Ge­orge for a week and al­ready he’s im­pressed the Spruce Kings play­ers and staff with his lead­er­ship qual­i­ties.

“I’ve al­ways liked to be part of the team, I think a lot of time goalies get that rep of be­ing a weirdo and be­ing kind of an out­cast and I try to fit in as best I can and I like to sit there and shoot the breeze with the boys,” said Alexan­der. “So far I’ve felt re­ally com­fort­able with ev­ery­one, there’s been a lot of re­spect go­ing around the room so hope­fully that will con­tinue.”

On the ice, Alexan­der’s hockey cre­den­tials speak for them­selves.

The 19-year-old from Bloom­field, Ont., played 43 games last sea­son in the Ontario Ju­nior Hockey League for the North York Rangers and was lights-out stingy. His 1.67 goals-against av­er­age and .945 save per­cent­age led the OJHL and his 10 shutouts set a league record. He posted a 30-11-1 record in his sec­ond ju­nior A sea­son and sported a 2.24 GAA and .936 save per­cent­age in 16 play­off games be­fore the Rangers were elim­i­nated by Welling­ton in a se­v­engame OJHL semi­fi­nal se­ries.

That got him no­ticed around the coun­try and Alexan­der won the OJHL top goal­tender award and was a na­tional MVP fi­nal­ist. So when he made it known he wanted to come to B.C. for his fi­nal ju­nior sea­son he made a list of teams he would go to and the de­fend­ing BCHL-cham­pion Spruce Kings won that bid­ding war when they com­pleted a fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tions deal for his rights.

“I know the BCHL is widely re­garded as the best league in Canada for ju­nior A hockey and be­ing my last year of el­i­gi­bil­ity I thought it would be a good time to make the change from play­ing in Ontario and I’m excited to be here,” Alexan­der said.

“I played in Toronto for three years and you don’t get the same crowds and fan base and sup­port as you do in a more com­mu­nity-minded en­vi­ron­ment like you have here. I know the sup­port’s un­be­liev­able and the com­mu­nity gets be­hind this team and I’m re­ally excited to have it, es­pe­cially with the home opener only a cou­ple weeks away.”

The Spruce Kings will raise their Fred Page Cup and Doyle Cup ban­ners to the rafters at Rolling Mix Con­crete Arena on that night, Sept. 6, when they start the sea­son against the Sur­rey Ea­gles.

Alexan­der, who turns 20 on Nov. 8, takes up a lot of net. He stands six-foot-five and tips the scales at 207 pounds. Size has be­come much more of at­trac­tive com­mod­ity for NHL teams draft­ing young goalies and Alexan­der cer­tainly has that go­ing for him.

“Any­one can be big, it’s one thing to just have the nat­u­ral gift of be­ing six-foot­five, but a lot of it is you have to be a good skater,” he said.

“That’s some­thing I’ve re­ally had to work on, mak­ing the jump from mi­nor hockey to ju­nior. I had to be­come a way bet­ter skater. I re­lied on my size and re­flexes more than I needed to. You have to be flu­ent and calm and you can’t over­re­act and I’ve worked on that a lot and it’s still a work in progress.”

Spruce Kings head coach Alex Evin is a for­mer col­lege goal­tender at Col­gate Univer­sity who played five sea­sons in the BCHL and Alexan­der is look­ing for­ward to hav­ing him around to help him re­fine his game.

The Kings were left with a large hole in net when Lo­gan Neaton moved on to col­lege hockey at UMass-Low­ell. Neaton played well enough in the Kings’ cham­pi­onship sea­son to get drafted in June in the fifth round by the Winnipeg Jets. Alexan­der will start the sea­son as the des­ig­nated starter, with 18-year-old Wa­ter­down, Ont., na­tive Jack McGovern slot­ting in as the backup. McGovern played last year for

St. Catharines of the Greater Ontario Ju­nior Hockey League.

“I re­mem­ber hear­ing about Lo­gan half­way through the year and then he was com­mit­ted and now he’s a draft pick and he’s def­i­nitely a re­ally tal­ented goalie and in my mind­set I’m not re­plac­ing him, I’m here to pave the path with the new team,” said Alexan­der. “I’m just go­ing to play my game and hope­fully that brings suc­cess to ev­ery­one.”

The Kings have just eight re­turn­ing play­ers from the team that fell one win shy of a na­tional cham­pi­onship and with camp of­fi­cially begin­ning Fri­day, Alexan­der has al­ready had a chance to get to know his new team­mates and their on-ice ten­den­cies af­ter skat­ing with team all week.

“I know they’ve traded for a cou­ple of vet­eran guys, kind of like my­self, and there are a lot of new faces – more than half the team is new, but that’s a good thing,” said Alexan­der. “You have a good core group that’s com­ing back and good lead­er­ship and it’s easy for ev­ery­one to fit in. I think they’ve done the right thing and brought the right people in.”

Fif­teen play­ers from last year’s team earned col­lege com­mit­ments and Alexan­der is ob­vi­ously mo­ti­vated to try and lock up the right NCAA schol­ar­ship.

He had a few of­fers last sea­son but none he thought were the right fit. Af­ter win­ning their first league cham­pi­onship in May and get­ting to the fi­nal in 2018, Alexan­der knows the Spruce Kings will at­tract at­ten­tion wher­ever they play.

“This (league) is very well re­cruited here and just with the suc­cess they’ve had I know it will bring scouts and I know we’ll have a good team,” he said.

“The first goal is hav­ing team suc­cess and af­ter that I’m sure the in­di­vid­ual stuff will come af­ter that.”

The 32 play­ers in camp split up for team prac­tices this morn­ing at 10 and 11:15 a.m. Scrim­mages are sched­uled for 6 p.m. Satur­day and 10 a.m. Sun­day at RMCA. The Kings host the Mer­ritt Cen­ten­ni­als in their first ex­hi­bi­tion game Tues­day night, then travel to Mer­ritt to play the Cents Fri­day.

HANDOUT PHOTO

Jett Alexan­der makes a save for the North York Rangers last sea­son in an un­dated handout photo.

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