PORT ALBERNI — The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have found their 16-year-old for next season, and they didn’t have to look far.
Evan Tironese will fulfill the new B.C. Hockey League requirement that all teams must carry a 1995-born player on the new 21-man roster. And he comes from just down the road, in Qualicum Beach.
Tironese last year played for the Notre Dame Argos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA League, posting 21 goals, 22 assists for 43 points in 52 games.
“The commitment of Evan is huge news for the future of Alberni Valley hockey,” head coach Paul Esdale said. “Colleges are already talking about him … he had really good numbers in midget.
“Even at the young age of 16, Evan will help our hockey team.”
Where Tironese will fit into the lineup will be up to him, Esdale said, adding that he expects the young forward to be one of the better 16-year-olds in the league next year.
Tironese considers himself a finesse player.
“Hopefully I’ll score a couple of goals and help the team out that way,” he said.
Scoring goals isn’t the only reason Tironese is happy to have committed to the Bulldogs. Since he was young, his parents have urged him to pursue his dream of hockey while at the same time get an education. The Bulldogs’ reputation for helping players land placements on U.S. college and university teams is known across the B.C. Hockey League. More than 70 players have signed with Canadian universities or the NCAA in the team’s 10-year history.
Tironese met with Bulldogs’ educational advisor Tom McEvay earlier this year and was convinced to come to the Alberni Valley.
Tironese’s parents are happy that he will play his first year of junior hockey so close to home. “It will be nice to have him closer to home,” his mother, Monica, said after Tironese was introduced to media and season ticket holders last week.
Tironese is the second Qualicum Beach native to play with the Bulldogs. Backup goaltender Kiefer Giroux is also from the Oceanside community and played minor hockey in Nanaimo.
— Susan Quinn, Alberni Valley News/Black Press