The word out of the B.C. Hockey League Showcase last weekend in Chilliwack was that the event could hardly be considered a success attendance-wise, drawing fewer fans than hoped.
But the number of university, college and even National Hockey League scouts more than made up for it as they previewed the current crop of B.C.based Junior A players all in one locale.
Victoria Grizzlies forward Dante Hahn got his fair share of attention as several schools showed interest in the 17-year-old. NHL clubs also expressed curiosity in the youngster as he enters his draft year.
"I talked to quite a few schools - basically some that I could only dream of talking to. I thought it would never happen, so I guess that's pretty cool," said Hahn, who was held pointless in Saturday night's 2-1 victory in Duncan against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Leo and Gerry Fitzgerald scored 2: 30 apart in the final 10 minutes for Victoria, now 3-0-0-1. Ryan Hanes replied for the Capitals, with goaltender Derek Dun stopping 38 shots. Mike Stiliadis made 26 saves for the Grizzlies.
"There were a few Ivy League schools, which my parents [Phil and Zoi] are pretty happy about, too, because they're big about education," added Hahn, who played at ShattuckSt. Mary's school in Minnesota the last two years.
"They're pretty excited, and so am I. Just to be talking to schools in general is pretty awesome."
The list is said to be impressive, too, as Harvard, Cornell, Yale and Princeton all showed interest in Hahn, as did UMass Lowell, Michigan State, Clarkson, Vermont and Maine.
Hahn wasn't confirming anything, but sources say he may have already been pitched a few offers.
Cornell is likely of huge interest for the Victoria product, as his current teammate and close friend Nolan DeJong has already committed to the NCAA school.
"It would be awesome to go there with him, or any Ivy League school, for that matter," said Hahn, who has settled onto a line with veterans Garrett Skrbic and Brett Hartskamp. "A lot of those schools have pretty good track records of sending guys to the NHL, too."
Sources say Hahn was approached at the BCHL Showcase by NHL scouts representing Anaheim, Colorado, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers, but the youngster wasn't giving anything away early in the season.
"I have an adviser, and he's great for me, and Bill [Bestwick, the Grizzlies' general manager and head coach] has been good. My parents have been a huge help. We'll take our time, process it and see what the best option is," Hahn said of the schools. "They all had a lot of good things to say, which is nice to hear. But it's a long season, we've only played a few games, so there's a lot to come."
As for the early NHL interest, Hahn said: "Again, it's one of the things I've dreamed about since I was a kid."