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BC Raised: Linden Makow

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Photo credit: Liz Wolter

Story by Matt Lawson

Linden Makow, forward for the Prince George Spruce Kings, is in the midst of his most productive season in the BCHL with 29 points through 42 games so far, which is good for third-highest on his team.

Makow comes from a humble hockey beginning, growing up in the small town of Vanderhoof, B.C. – roughly 100km west of Prince George.

“I grew up in a small town,  just playing the hockey that was available to me, which was tier four.” said Makow. “I played and grew up there until Peewee second year.”

From there, Makow was off to the Okanagan Hockey Academy for a year, before coming back up north to play with the Cariboo Cougars of the BCEHL. Makow says these programs were instrumental in his hockey development.

“It was great,” he said. “It was definitely a bit of a change compared to minor hockey. You’re in the gym every day. You’re on the ice every single day. You’ve got school also and it’s all kind of connected. I thought it really improved my game.”

“There are definitely no shortcuts. If you want to move up to the next level of hockey, you can’t be taking shortcuts. Everything has got to be done the right way, and if you do it the right way, you’re going to see yourself grow.”

After his time in minor hockey, Makow suited up for the Prince George Spruce Kings at the age of 16 and he hasn’t looked back.

“My first year, it was definitely an eye opener,” he said. “I was younger. It definitely took a bit of adjusting, but once I got up to speed, I felt more comfortable with the team and learned some new details and new ways to do things. It’s been great so far.”

Coming into the league at such a young age presents a lot of challenges, but Makow says the older players on the team made it much easier for him.

“The older guys were unreal with me when I was young,” he said. “I had a really good friend on the team who was a 19-year-old at the time, Corey Cunningham. He was also there at 16 and he had been through the same thing. All of the older guys were always good with me. Like in practice, if I messed something up or if something happened and the coach said something to me, they’d always come and check in and make sure everything was okay and tell me how to deal with things because they had been in the same position.”

Now that Makow is one of the older guys on the team, he tries to pass on that same mentorship to the younger players on this current Spruce Kings squad.

“In junior hockey, some guys struggle being away from home and some of the new guys struggle at the arena with certain things,” he said. “So it’s always good to check in with guys and make sure everything’s good with them.”

When Makow began playing U18 hockey in Prince George, his family decided to move there to be alongside him for his hockey journey. According to him, having his family so close has been a huge help.

“It’s a dream to play junior hockey at home,” said Makow. “I know a lot of kids wish they could be in the same spot. It’s pretty cool having friends and family just being able to stop by and watch games on any given night.”

Spending the majority of his life in Vanderhoof and Prince George, it’s no surprise that Makow has a love for the outdoors. He says he loves spending time and bonding with the team away from the rink in the wilderness.

“I’m a huge outdoorsman,” he said. “I love fishing and hunting. When I’m going out, I always try to bring as many of the boys as I can with me. It’s always good to get a little break from the rink and clear your head outdoors. We have one kid from Japan [Kazumo Sasaki] and I took him out with his billet and it was just a new world for him. It was pretty cool to show him this way of life.”

Makow has played his entire junior hockey career with the Spruce Kings and can’t say enough good things about the organization. He truly admires the culture built in Prince George.

“Our organization is very hard-working and you really get what you give,” he said. “It starts at the top with our management and goes down through all of the players.”

With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the Spruce Kings currently sit in eighth in the Interior Conference, but Makow says that hasn’t affected the belief in the team’s dressing room.

“We don’t have the greatest record, but I think our team is better than our record says,” he explained. “We have beaten every team in our division so far. We just need to string it together down the stretch.”

Makow will be back for one more BCHL campaign next year and he has his sights set on a scholarship. That being said, he isn’t looking too far ahead.

“Obviously, I’d love to get a scholarship,” he said. “But I know sometimes it takes a bit of time. For now, I’d like to just play some good playoff hockey games in front of our amazing crowd and go from there.”

The Spruce Kings have eight games remaining in the 2023-24 season and Makow will look to lead them on a run as the postseason approaches.