Two graduates of the Comox Valley Glacier Kings who also played minor hockey together have each won a junior A championship in Ontario the last two years.
Austin Heidt and Caleb Dolman had started the past season as teammates in Cochrane, Ont. Before Christmas, Heidt was traded to the Hearst Lumberjacks, which won the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) championship.
“It was awesome, it was probably the best time of my life,” said Heidt, 20, a defenceman who was part of the Lumberjacks top defensive pairing nicknamed the shut-down line, matched against the top offensive units of opposing teams.
Hearst advanced to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup — the Central Canadian junior A championship — but lost to the Oakville Blades, who advanced to the RBC Cup — the Canadian junior A championship.
The previous season, the Cochrane Crunch had won the NOJHL championship, which earned the team the right to host the Dudley-Hewitt Cup this year.
“It’s been a good run,” said Dolman, 19, who plays centre and wing.
He and Heidt both attended Isfeld Secondary in Courtenay. In their Grade 12 year, they played a season of junior B hockey together with the Glacier Kings.
Heidt credits Dolman for helping him through “a bit of a rough time” in Cochrane.
“Since I moved to the Island, we formed a pretty close friendship,” Heidt said. “He’s a great player, and a great competitor. I think that’s fuelled our friendship.”
Heidt has one season remaining with Hearst, which is partially owned by Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Dolman also has a year left in junior, which he might follow with college hockey.
“Everyone at the junior A level is there for a reason, because they want to move on in hockey and pursue college,” Dolman said. “They go there to better themselves…They’re (junior A and B) both competitive, but junior B is more of a mix of guys that are trying to move onto the next level, like myself and Austin were, and some guys that are there to play out their years, and have fun and enjoy it. That’s kind of the difference in competitive edge. In junior A, everybody’s vying to get up to that next level. They’re there to use it as a stepping stone to move on.”