Kings land their own private Jett
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.
Jett Alexander makes a save for the North York Rangers last season in an undated handout photo.