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BC Raised: Luc Pelletier

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Photo credit: Island Images

Victoria Grizzlies forward Luc Pelletier is in his fourth and final year in the BCHL. Many of his peers in the league have had to move from other regions, other provinces or other countries, but Pelletier is one of the lucky ones who has managed to stay close to home for the entirety of his young hockey career.

Born and raised in Courtenay, B.C. in the Comox Valley region of Vancouver Island, the 2003-born Pelletier grew up playing minor hockey for the Comox Valley Chiefs.  He eventually played a year of minor hockey in Nanaimo, then another season with the North Island Silvertips U16 team before starting his junior career with the Peninsula Panthers Junior B team in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL).

“I had a few great coaches growing up,” said Pelletier. “In Nanaimo, a guy who was my spring hockey coach and my regular coach for a couple years, John Schlitz. He’s a great guy and I always had a great time on his teams. In Junior B, the one year I played, Brad Tippett was a great coach and showed me a lot of things. He really helped me as I moved on to the BCHL.”

Pelletier had 35 points in 48 games as a 16-year-old in the VIJHL. That season, he also had the opportunity to affiliate with the Grizzlies and practice with the team.

“I didn’t get into any games,” he said. “But I feel like the practices really helped me get to that next level.”

By the 2020-21 season, Pelletier was ready to make the jump to the BCHL full time, but there was one problem. The season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and didn’t get going until the spring.

“That year was pretty strange,” he said. “We ended up practicing for so long. We had some exhibition games here and there, but by the time we ended up actually playing meaningful games in May, I was pretty ready. I think all that practice helped me in the end. I had a good season.”

Fast forward to 2023-24 and Pelletier is in his fourth season with the team and is now one of their key contributors. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound power forward put up a career-best 20 goals and 45 points this year.

“Being here for a few years now, I’ve been in a few different roles,” said Pelletier. “I’ve been a shutdown guy at times and more of an offensive player at other times. Every offseason, I make it a focus to improve my game, whether it’s through speed or size. At the beginning of every season, I’ve been able to come out as a stronger and better player. With more opportunity, I’ve been able to show what I’m able to do.”

His play goes beyond the box score though. Along with linemates Julian Cull and Malcolm Green, they provide the Grizzlies with defence, energy and timely scoring night in and night out.

That shutdown role isn’t for everyone. Some players would rather focus on padding their stats, but Pelletier and his linemates relish the job.

“In my opinion, it’s one of the most important roles on a successful team,” he said. “You need guys that are willing to go in there and do whatever it takes. If we’re shutting down their best players, then they get frustrated. Our players see that and it will help us play even better.”

After beating their Island rivals the Nanaimo Clippers in five games in the first round of the BCHL Playoffs, Pelletier and the Grizzlies find themselves in a close battle in Round 2 against the Surrey Eagles, the number-one overall seed in the postseason. Down 3-2 in the series, Victoria faces a must-win home game Saturday to extend their season.

No matter what happens, the past four years have been a great experience for Pelletier. He has grown immensely has a hockey player and as a person during his time in Victoria. With this being his 20-year-old season, he will be moving on to start the next chapter in his hockey career in 2024-25, playing NCAA Division I hockey at Princeton University.

“Growing up, my family has always pushed the importance of education,” he said. “I was always impressed by Ivy League schools. I never really thought I’d be able to go to one, but when they approached me last year, I couldn’t say no. It’s a great hockey school and of course a great place to get an education. It was a no-brainer for me.”

“They work hard. They play a 200-foot game, which I’m used to. It’s not a place where it’s all run-and-gun hockey. It’s somewhere that we can grind teams down and play good defence, which I think fits my game pretty well.”

Once it comes time to get things started at Princeton in the fall, Pelletier will likely follow the same trajectory as he did in the BCHL, starting as a young player looking to make a name for himself and eventually growing into a versatile key contributor on a good team.