The Victoria Cougars continue to move players onto the next level.
17-year-old forward Darwin Lakoduk has signed with the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League for the 2018-19 campaign.
Cougars head coach Suneil Karod, a former scout for the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL), needed to watch Lakoduk play only once before signing him.
“It was all I needed to see that there was something special about him,” Karod said. “Darwin is very dedicated as well as being a hard worker and a student of the game.”
A native of Vernon, British Columbia, changing scenery from Edmonton, Alberta, where he played last year, to Vancouver Island was a seamless transition for Lakoduk.
That is because the Cougars employ a full-time billeting coordinator to make sure that no player goes without a roof over his head.
Lakoduk is currently leading the Cougars in scoring and is a candidate to win the Larry Lamoureaux Trophy for rookie of the year honours in the nine-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
After playing for the Northern Alberta Xtreme Prep last season, the five-foot-ten, 158-pound centre is very thankful that Karod recruited him to play for the Cougars.
“I couldn’t ask for more supportive and dedicated coaches. They gave me opportunities to play in all game situations and were committed to developing me as a player to achieve my goal of moving onto the next level of hockey,” Lakoduk said.
Victoria is the perfect place to play hockey and playing for the Cougars give players an amazing opportunity.
Archie Browning Sports Centre, home of the Cougars, is only a seven minute drive from downtown Victoria.
The Cougars also own their own dressing room which is an added bonus. As well, a new sound system and jumbotron was recently installed inside the ‘Arch’ to give fans the ultimate experience.
Player fees include gear, apparel, travel, food, gym membership, and ice times for both practices and games.
Victoria also boasts two world class post-secondary institutions – Royal Roads University and the University of Victoria.
Since acceptance into the VIJHL 20 years ago, the Cougars have seven league titles and seven regular season titles. They also have been to the Cyclone Taylor Cup seven times; wining gold once, silver three times, and bronze twice.
Some notable Cougars alumni who have moved onto the next level include: Mitch Fadden (Seattle Thunderbirds – WHL), Michael Herringer (Kelowna Rockets – WHL), Barry Horman (Spokane Chiefs – WHL), Adam Jennings (Red Deer Rebels – WHL), Nathan Looysen (Kamloops Blazers – WHL), Tyler Vanuden (Alberni Valley Bulldogs – BCHL), Tyler Pang (Sherwood Park Crusaders – AJHL), Nico Somerville (Victoria Grizzlies – BCHL), Anthony Ciurro (University of Arizona – ACHA), and Graham Zagrodney (Lindenwood University – ACHA).
“Darwin was willing to put in all the work that is required to make the jump to Junior A,” Karod said. “I couldn’t be happier for him and to have coached him. He will do well at the next level.”