VANCOUVER — They saw early morning practices in the middle of snow storms when he was just five years old.
They saw their only son leave their St. John’s, N.L. home at 14 to pursue his hockey dreams in Ontario. A dream that wound up taking him across to Canada’s other coast to complete his junior hockey career in the B.C. Hockey League with the Victoria Grizzlies.
And on Friday night in Vancouver, Shawn and Paula Newhook saw their son Alex step up onto the stage inside Rogers Arena in front of 14,000 fans and pull on the National Hockey League jersey of the Colorado Avalanche.
“Pretty amazing and extremely nerve-racking,” Shawn Newhook said after watching his son get selected 16th overall at the 2019 NHL draft.
Shawn’s younger sister, Kelly, lives in Victoria and took in Alex during his first season in the capital region two years ago.
“We were totally on board with his decision to come to Victoria, I mean the winters there beat the ones in Newfoundland by a mile, and having Kelly there to support him was just great for us,” he said.
Alex Newhook wasn’t short on support at Rogers Arena either. Forty family and friends made the long trek west and so did a rowdy bunch of Grizzlies teammates who kept chanting: “We want Newhook.”
“That was awesome for them to come support Alex,” said Paula Newhook. “The Grizzlies organization is really amazing and Alex had just a wonderful time in Victoria.”
Newhook, the Grizzlies captain who led the BCHL in scoring and was named the league’s most-valuable player, becomes the first player from a Victoria junior team to be selected in the first round of the NHL draft since Joel Savage of the Victoria Cougars was chosen 13th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1988 draft.
The 18-year-old, who graduates from Belmont Secondary next week, is the first Grizzlies player to be taken in the first round. But he won’t be the only former Grizzlies player with the Colorado Avalanche. Langford native Tyson Barrie patrols the Colorado blue line and played for the Grizzlies for one season before joining the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.