Teen earns bronze in elite hockey tourney

Darian Harris helps Team B.C. medal at National Aboriginal Championships in Halifax

Darian Harris is wearing the colours of Team B.C. proudly after skating to a bronze medal in the Aboriginal Hockey Championships May 2 in Halifax.

Darian Harris is wearing the colours of Team B.C. proudly after skating to a bronze medal in the Aboriginal Hockey Championships May 2 in Halifax.

Two trips to the national championship, two historic Canadian cities, two medals.

Not a bad way to spend your teenage years.

Ladysmith teen Darian Harris returned home from Halifax earlier this month with a bronze medal around his neck from the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship.

The team lost just once during this year’s tournament, which ran from April 26 to May 2. But that loss happened at the wrong time — a semi-final game against Alberta, a team BC had already defeated in the round-robin.

Harris said they were disappointed, but were able to pull things together in time for the bronze medal game against Ontario, where they overcame a 2-1 deficit to medal.

It was the 16-year-old right winger’s second shot at the tourney, after winning silver last year in Montreal. He was glad to be back with the squad, with a good group of guys and a chance to see the country.

A scare in tryouts made him wonder if he was going to get that chance. Most of the time, someone who made the team as a 15-year-old would be a shoe-in to make the same team as a 16-year-old.

“When I went to tryouts this year, I was so nervous,” he said. “Then, when I went into the first interview (the coach) told me I was in danger of being pushed from my spot.”

He persevered, pulled his game together and re-established himself as a valuable role player, using his defence to emerge from a tryout camp in Kamloops that attracted about 100 players.

“(I bring) a lot of physicality to the game and a lot of energy as well,” he said. “I seem to get put on the PK a lot.”

After spending last year with the North Island Silvertips of the B.C. Major Midget League, he’s going to attempt to build on those skills next fall in the B.C. Junior Hockey League. He has tryouts scheduled with both the Nanaimo Clippers and the Cowichan Valley Capitals, but acknowledges making either time may be a longshot at 16.

“This year I know it would be hard to make a junior A team. I’ve kind of got a better idea of the junior game. It’s going to be different.

His goal is to be more consistent and his fallback is a spot with the Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior B League, where he hopes to play well enough to earn a call-up to junior A.

Ultimately the prize would be a university hockey scholarship. The key to making that happen?

“I think just make sure you go as hard as you can and give it everything you’ve got.”