VANCOUVER — Things are about to get real interesting in the Struble household.
Growing up in Cumberland, Rhode Island, Jayden Struble and his family were huge Boston Bruins fans.
That’s about to change — well, maybe.
Struble, who’s headed to the B.C. Hockey League’s Victoria Grizzlies this fall, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round, 46th overall, on Day 2 of the NHL Draft on Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Struble family: Welcome to one of the greatest rivalries in sports.
“Oh, this is going to be very interesting in my house now,” Struble said with a laugh as he was swarmed by media from Montreal backstage at Rogers Arena. “I mean, growing up near Boston, you have to be a B’s fan, and I was,” said Struble, whose favourite player growing up was Patrice Bergeron.
“Obviously, that’s all going to change now.”
The six-foot, 195-pound Struble, who is finishing up his senior year at St. Sebastian’s School, near Boston, brings a physical presence to the Grizzlies’ blue line. He finished first in five of the fitness tests at the recent NHL Draft Combine, including bench press, standing long jump and grip strength — all areas that obviously impressed the Canadiens.
“I’m really excited about going to Montreal. I’m a little surprised because I talked to some other teams a little bit more, but I couldn’t be more happy about going to Montreal.”
Struble is committed to Northeastern University of the NCAA for the fall of 2020, and said he’ll use his time in Victoria to develop his game in a program that he saw have three players selected over the two-day draft on the weekend, including first-rounder Alex Newhook to the Colorado Avalanche.
“It’s really amazing the team they had so you can see it is a great organization and the BCHL is a great league for developing talent,” Struble said.
The talent was on full display Saturday. After Struble, two more Grizzlies were selected, starting with Montreal native Alex Campbell, who went in the third round, 65th overall, to the Nashville Predators. Then it was defenceman and North Vancouver native Carter Berger going in the fourth round, 106th overall, to the Florida Panthers.
Campbell is headed to Omaha of the USHL in the fall before moving on to the NCAA and Clarkson University, but his trip to the West Coast was unforgettable.
“Being selected by Nashville is unbelievable, it doesn’t feel real yet,” said 18-year-old Campbell, who was named the BCHL rookie of the year.
“And the Grizzlies deserve a lot of credit. I mean, just look at the players being selected today, and then you have Struble coming in, so it’s just a really great organization, right from the coaching staff to the volunteers. I had an amazing time in Victoria.”
Berger, named the top defenceman in the BCHL this season, has spent the past three season with the Grizzlies and will head to the University of Connecticut in the fall to begin his NCAA career.
But getting drafted in his hometown is one he’ll never forget.
“This is awesome, just so much emotions all day,” said 19-year-old Berger. “And to go to a great organization like the Panthers who have a lot of great players is amazing.”
“Florida was one of the teams I didn’t talk to but my adviser said they had shown interest, so I’m really appreciative of that and looking forward to prospects camp and getting to meet everyone.”
Hearing the Grizzlies name announced over the PA system at Rogers Arena so many times, is also something Berger says he’ll never forget.
“I was here for Alex [Newhook] yesterday and the whole process has been unbelievable, and I’m glad we’re here supporting each other. It just shows the kind of team we had this year and just what a group and organization we have in Victoria.”
All of this weekend’s draft picks will now take part in prospects camps next week with their respective NHL teams, before going their separate ways.
But, as Berger said, they’ll always stay in touch, especially since they’ll become foes on the ice next season in the NCAA with UConn, Boston College (Newhook), Northeastern (Jeremie Bucheler and Riley Hughes) and Merrimack College (Ryan Nolan) all being in the Hockey East Conference.
“We were just talking about that [Friday night],” Berger said. “It’s going to be so cool seeing each other again because we really were a tight group. It was an amazing year.”
DRAFT NOTES: With the three Grizzlies selected on the weekend, the Victoria franchise has produced 11 NHL draft picks, the fourth most of any BCHL team. Only Penticton (33), Vernon (20) and Chilliwack (12) have produced more. . . . There were five other BCHL players selected over the weekend: Layton Ahac of the Prince George Spruce Kings went in the third round, 86th overall, to the Vegas Golden Knights; Harrison Blaisdell of the Chilliwack Chiefs went in the fifth round, 134th overall, and Logan Neaton of the Spruce Kings in the fifth round, 144th overall, to the Winnipeg Jets; Kevin Wall of the Chiefs went in the sixth round, 181st overall, and Massimo Rizzo of Penticton in the seventh round, 216th overall, to the Carolina Hurricanes.