Two young local hockey players made their long-awaited return to Brennan Park Arena on Sunday (Sept. 16).
But they weren’t wearing the green, yellow and white of the Squamish Minor Hockey Association (SMHA). Instead, Squamish natives Malik Kaila and Jared Lukosevicius were sporting the colours of the Vancouver North West Giants of the British Columbia Major Midget League (BCMML).
“It felt pretty good to be back at Brennan Park,” Kaila said, noting that he left town around the age of 12 to pursue his hockey dreams. “But I was a little nervous. I had a lot of family and friends out there.”
“All your friends and family are in the stands and they’re here to see you play because you’re supposedly good at hockey,” joked Lukosevicius. “But we definitely played well today. We really took it to them.”
Lukosevicius helped lead the way for the Giants in Sunday’s game against the Vancouver North East Chiefs, as the forward picked up four assists and displayed some nifty moves dishing the puck around on the power play. Kaila was a rock on the blue line and helped limit the Chiefs’ chances in the Giants 7-2 win.
Both players learned how to skate in Brennan Park and told their teammates about the lively boards and “good” ice. It’s the second full season on the team for both players and the ultimate goal was clear.
“We want to win the Telus Cup,” Lukosevicius said.
The Giants came up a little short last year, falling to Red Deer in the Telus Cup regional finals back in April. Kaila said he thinks the team’s improved offence should keep the team’s championship hopes alive.
“Last year it seemed like we got a lot of our offence from our defence, but I think this year we’re all offence and should be able to score a lot of goals,” he said.
Kaila said he hopes to become a steady force on the backend and contribute any way he can. Lukosevicius, who was second on the Giants in scoring last year and had the 19th highest point total in the BCMML, said he wants to see his name on the score sheet even more this season.
“I want to try and be in the top five in league scoring,” he said.
The Giants will start the season in Victoria, taking on the South Island Royals on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 22 and 23). The club plays its home games at the Burnaby Winter Club, with the first home date scheduled for Sept. 30.
For more information on the Giants and the BCMML, visit www.bcmml.net.