Grizzlies’ Henri Schreifels puts focus back on hockey after earning scholarship

7 p.m. at Weyerhaeuser Arena

It’s known to be one of the most academic-heavy schools in the U.S., but that didn’t scare Henri Schreifels away. In fact, the Victoria Grizzlies forward and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute seem to be a perfect match. Schreifels thinks so, which is why he accepted an NCAA Div. 1 scholarship to play for the R.P.I. Engineers starting next fall.

The school, based in Troy, New York, is most famous for producing high-level engineering graduates and requires a 3.80 grade point average to gain entrance to its campus.

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“When I visited the school recently, it just seemed perfect for me. The coaches were great, campus was great, the arena was great and the students and people in the town seemed really friendly, so I had a really great time,” Schreifels said as his Grizzlies prepared to face the Alberni Valley Bulldogs tonight in Port Alberni and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday night at The Q Centre.

“And I know it’s known for engineering, but I’m really interested in business management and they have a very good program for that, too, so I’m really excited about getting started there.”

Schreifels is known on the ice for his speed and skill as he sits third on the Grizzlies in scoring with 16 goals and 17 assists in 44 games. It’s his second season in Victoria. He got in 15 playoff games last spring as the Grizzlies went to the conference final.

Off the ice, he has some serious book skills. The 19-year-old from Agoura Hills, California, took extra courses in his senior year of high school so he could graduate early and concentrate on hockey. Oh, and he just happened to score 1,300 on his SAT.

“I worked hard in high school so I could focus late on hockey and R.P.I. noticed that and, I think, that went into their decision,” Schreifels said.

R.P.I. plays in the East Coast Athletic Conference (known as the Ivy League) alongside the likes of Harvard, Cornell, Princeton and St. Lawrence universities, where Schreifels’ current teammate Brendan Bowie is headed in 2021.

“Yeah, I hear it’s a great conference with great cities like Boston, so I’m excited to get going,” Schreifels said.

Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon has seen a vast improvement in Schreifels’ game and expects the speedy winger to only get better.

“The scholarship is well-deserved,” Didmon said.

“He has been a student of the game, and has put the time and energy into developing himself as a hockey player.

“And he brings a complete game now. He’s always been dangerous offensively, but now he brings an attention to detail defensively.”

Now Schreifels has his attention directed to this weekend with another pair of huge games as the Grizzlies (17-29) hit the stretch run before playoffs with just 12 games left in the regular season.

It’ll also be the third straight game against the Bulldogs (23-18-3), something Victoria is getting used to in a bizarre B.C. Hockey League schedule. They had a week in November when they played three straight games against the Nanaimo Clippers. In the last week of the regular season, the Grizzlies will finish with three straight against the Powell River Kings.

“It’ll make it interesting, three in a row, for sure, but I’m not a fan of it,” Schreifels said.

“But every point is huge for us as we try to get as good a playoff position as we can.

“And we know we can play with any team in the league so once we do get in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter who we play, we’ll be dangerous and have a good chance of winning.”

LOOSE PUCKS: The Grizzlies will be without veteran winger Eddie Yan this weekend as he has joined Team China in South Korea for the Division II B world junior championship.

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