After a standout career with the Nanaimo Clippers of the B.C. Hockey League, Nanoose Bay’s Corey Renwick is moving on to play collegiate hockey in the U.S.
But he won’t be moving south.
Renwick, a centre who began his playing career in the Oceanside Minor Hockey Association, has signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Alaska Anchorage beginning this fall. He will join a Seawolves program that competes in the NCAA Division 1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
“I have an idea of what Alaska’s like in my head,” said Renwick, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound graduate of Ballenas Secondary School. “But I’ve never been there so this will be a new experience.”
Renwick last week completed his final season of Junior hockey eligibility when the Clippers were eliminated from the BCHL playoffs one game short of the league finals series.
He finished the season with nine goals and 20 assists and added two goals and an assist in the playoffs, though his role with the Clippers was more that of a checking centre than a sniper.
“I’ve shut down the other team’s top centres, going up against the best players in the league,” said Renwick, who also skated on Nanaimo’s top penalty-killing unit. “It’s not often a player like me gets a scholarship; usually the top-end scorers are the type of players they’re looking for in the NCAA.”
Still, the UAA coaching staff came through with its offer after Renwick netted the series-ending, game-winning goal in the Clippers’ first-round win over Powell River.
“After that, they offered me the scholarship,” he said. “They’d been watching me and I knew their head coach was looking for a big, right-handed centre that’s reliable and smart.”
Renwick, who will study business at the University, has gotten some practice at juggling hockey and schoolwork. He has been taking four courses at Vancouver Island University to maintain his junior eligibility in his age-20 season.
Though Renwick has played his entire major midget and junior career while sleeping in his own bed, this will not be his first time away from home.
After playing in the Oceanside Minor Hockey system through his first bantam season, he was selected to the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, where he played his final bantam season and first year of midget hockey.
Renwick returned home to play for Nanaimo’s North Island Silvertips of the BC Major Midget Hockey League, then signed on with the Junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Hockey League. Midway through his first season of junior hockey, Renwick was picked up by the Junior A Clippers, where he has remained since.
“Playing for my hometown-area team, the junior team you kind of grew up watching, was almost surreal,” said Renwick. “My first shift with the Clippers I got an assist. And the last two years, making it far into the playoffs, was cool. The City of Nanaimo really got behind the team.”
Renwick credits each of his junior hockey coaches — Dave Johnson, Brad Knight and current Clippers coach Mike Vandekamp — with preparing him for the opportunity to continue his career.
And Renwick will see at least one familiar face when he arrives in Anchorage, where former Clippers teammate Mason Mitchell now skates.
“I was able to talk with him about the town and the school, about how it was and whether he liked it,” Renwick said. “He said nothing but good things.
“And their team plays in a good division. It was too good an opportunity to pass up.”