Darian Harris

Harris stickhandles his way into elite hockey academy

Darian Harris, a 15-year-old training at the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy, is our Athlete of the Month for September.

Darian Harris hopes to fast-track his way to the big leagues by packing four seasons’ worth of hockey into a single school year.

To help further his ambitions, the 15-year-old right winger from Stz’uminus First Nation has moved to Victoria to attend the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy.

Harris is one of 17 elite Vancouver Island Minor Midget hockey players who will train with the academy through its first year in operation.

Under the watchful eye of PCHA coach Kelly Shields — who will be aided, in turn, by current and former NHL players, college and university coaches and Junior hockey coaches — Harris and his puck-handling peers will hone their skills both on and off the ice for a minimum of 12.5 hours each week from now through June. A typical minor hockey team, by comparison, plays only twice a week through a far shorter season, Harris said, meaning that he and his PCHA Pacific Sea Devils teammates will log four seasons’ worth of ice time by year’s end.

He’s only been involved with the program for a few weeks now, but Harris is convinced PCHA has already helped him improve at “everything” hockey-related.

Harris plans to use his year at the academy as a “stepping stone to Major Midget,” he said, and he anticipates spending “a year or two” at the next level before graduating to the WHL, preferably as a Tri-City American.

Harris’s ultimate goal is to play in the NHL, he said, but he has “no clue” what professional team he would like to eventually suit up for.

Harris is focused, instead, on Pacific Sea Devils’ hockey and schoolwork. He spends Monday and Wednesday mornings studying Grade 10 math, science, English and socials at the WestShore Centre for Learning and Training. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, meanwhile, are spent completing assignments either from home or at the rink, he said, and the remainder of his week is devoted to hockey.

A typical weekday afternoon consists of on-ice time at the Bear Mountain Arena followed by dryland training at the Ice Centre for Excellence, PCHA’s home rink, Harris said, with weekends devoted to games and tournaments.

Daunting though it may be, their training regimen has already begun to pay off.

At a recent tournament, a coach from Penticton’s Okanagan Hockey Academy suggested that Vancouver Island players weren’t skilled enough to compete against their mainland peers. It was an opinion the Pacific Sea Devils saw fit to challenge.

“We played them in that tournament and we beat them 3–2,” Harris said.

In closing, the former Bantam AAA Cowichan Capital summed up his hockey prep school experience by stating: “I love it here.”

Pacific Sea Devils coach and PCHA founder Kelly Shields referred to Harris as “a very skilled hockey player.”

The Pacific Sea Devils visited Vancouver in mid-September to take part in their first tournament of the year, Shields said, competing against teams from the province’s top hockey prep schools and academies.

While facing off against “the best competition of 15 year olds in the province,” Harris “scored a couple of really big goals” for his team, Shields added.

“He’s got good speed and he’s a really skilled player,” Shields explained, “and at 15, he still hasn’t fully grown.

“Our program gives kids an opportunity to grow and develop as 15 year olds so that they’re ready to step into the role of a 16 year old when they’re physically and mentally ready to take on that role.”

Tim Harris, Darian’s father, said he’s “really proud” of his son, adding that “there’s not a ton of elite First Nation players” competing at Major Junior and professional levels.

To help Darian realize his potential, Tim will pay PCHA $17,000 over the course of the year.

Tim hopes to raise at least part of that sum through donations and fundraisers, he said.

Any hockey fans interested in donating to Darian’s cause can reach Tim by phone at 250-245-3522 or by e-mail at tim.harris@stzuminus.com.

Just Posted

Yellow Point Ecological Society releases video advocating for the protection of private forests

The group is concerned about the loss of forests in the Yellow Point area

LSS improv program gives students an opportunity to be themselves and entertain others

The Ladysmith Secondary School improv program has planned two weeks of shows for the community

New Sonic the Hedgehog trailer shows off Ladysmith and new character animation

At long last, Sonic the Hedgehog will hit theatres on February 14

Diamond District woman warns against the use of rat poison

At some point between breakfast and lunch Martin had suddenly collapsed and died

Calling all believers: Chemainus Theatre Festival runs Miracle on 34th Street

Opening night is Friday, November 15, and closing is December 29

VIDEO: Disney Plus adds disclaimer about racist stereotypes

Disney’s disclaimer is a good way to begin discussion about the larger issue of racism

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

B.C. man facing 18 charges after hidden camera found in Kelowna winery washroom

The camera was found at Summerhill Winery on Aug. 23

No new rules needed to ensure timely youth justice, Supreme Court says

Charter of Rights and Freedoms says someone charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

Most Read