By: Michael Lenko, Peak Associate
Hello readers of The Peak sports section,
Our Peak Sports Mailbag topic this week is SFU Hockey and our host is second year SFU Hockey goaltender Michael Lenko.
Thanks so much to all of our readers for submitting their SFU Hockey-related questions this week, and for filling up my inbox with sports-themed questions throughout the semester. As this is the final mailbag of the Fall 2019 semester, I’m happy to announce the winner of our semesterly Peak Sports Mailbag raffle draw. The winner of the draw this semester is Derek W. Congratulations Derek! We’ve sent you an email with details on how to pick up your prize. Now, onto the questions!
Question 1: Can you tell me a bit about the history of the SFU Hockey program? – John
Answer: The SFU Hockey team was founded in the 1960s and competed through the 1970s with a handful of other collegiate teams in the area. Following a long break, the team began to compete again in the 2004–05 season and, in 2006, took part in the formation of the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL).
The main reason for the formation of the BCIHL was to allow local players to continue playing at the collegiate level while they earned an education. I would say the biggest difference in the BCIHL from then to now is how competitive the league has become compared to other well-recognized leagues. BCIHL teams now consistently play against, and compete reasonably with, U Sports and NCAA Division 1 opponents in exhibition play. Similarly, the quality of players in the league is only getting better, and it is now hard to find a roster that is not made up of high-end junior A and B players with some WHL alumni sprinkled in.
In the 18 years since the BCIHL was first established, the SFU Hockey team has won three league championships. While the program has flirted with the possibility of joining the NCAA Division 1, the costs are too prohibitive to make the move at this time.
Question 2: Who are the most notable SFU Hockey alumni in terms of their on-ice careers? – Chelsea
Answer: While there have been many SFU Hockey alumni that have made the jump to pro-hockey, I’ll discuss some of the most recent success stories of players that have graduated into professional leagues after playing with the Clan.
In the last few years, the SFU Hockey team has produced a handful of players that have gone on to play in some well-recognized professional leagues across the world. In another Peak article published earlier this year, I highlighted Ian Mackey, who was a teammate of mine last year, and his jump to the ECHL. Another former teammate of mine, 2018 BCIHL MVP Mathew Berry-Lamontagna, is currently playing in the top Hungarian pro league. Former BCIHL MVP from the SFU hockey program, Lyndon Stanwood, made the jump to pro hockey in Sweden last year and is currently playing in their second tier professional league.
Arguably the most successful SFU Hockey alumnus, in terms of their post-SFU hockey career, is Jordan Liem. Liem currently plays for ORG Beijing of the Supreme Hockey League (VHL). The VHL is a very strong league that is just a step below the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), which is widely regarded as the second-best hockey league in the world. It is a really unique league to play in because, just like the KHL, the VHL has teams in Eastern Europe, Russia, and China.
Question 3: What type of community events has the SFU Hockey team participated in? – Adam
Answer: So far this year, we’ve been involved in the Down Syndrome Research Fund bocce Tournament in North Vancouver and the Westburn Family Picnic and Movie Night that took place during the summer. These were both fun events to be a part of that helped raise money for a good cause.
Some of the other events we’ve been a part of in the past are the Hockey Gives Blood drive and the Canadian National Blind Hockey Tournament. The Hockey Gives Blood event really hit home for many members of the SFU Hockey program, as it was started in support of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy on April 6, 2018. Many of my teammates knew and/or played with people that were on that bus, so it was nice to have a way to honour their memory and help save lives by donating blood and joining the stem cell registry. The SFU Hockey team has also sent players to local Burnaby elementary schools to read to kids throughout the past few seasons.
Though this is the final Mailbag of the Fall 2019 semester, this feature will return in some form in the Spring 2020 semester. If you would like to participate in future editions of the Peak Sports Mailbag get in touch at email@example.com.