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Hirose heading to Minnesota State

After reaching the 100-game plateau on opening night on Friday, Salmon Arm Silverbacks defenceman Akito Hirose has added another milestone to his resume as he has committed to play for the Minnesota State University (Mankato) Mavericks in the 2019-20 season.

Hirose has just started his third season with the Silverbacks, where he has put up 44 points in his 100 games. The 19-year-old from Calgary, Alta. is off to a good start this year as he scored a goal and added an assist in his team’s 4-2 opening-night win over the Merritt Centennials.

Although he is focused on this season in Salmon Arm, Hirose can’t help but look ahead to joining the Mavericks next year.

“My years with the Silverbacks organization have helped me grow as a player and a person,” said Hirose in a media release. “I chose Mankato over other programs because of the coaching staff and the trust they built with me. I also know I can learn a lot from all the coaches, but especially (head) coach (Mike) Hastings. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with one of the best coaches in college hockey.”

Salmon Arm head coach Scott Atkinson knows the Mavericks are getting an intelligent player who will help their program right away.

“Akito is a highly skilled player with an exceptional hockey IQ ,” said Atkinson. “Mankato has an outstanding program, so I think it’s a great fit for both sides. I couldn’t be happier,”

Minnesota State led the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) last season with an overall record of 29-10-1 before losing to Michigan Tech in the semifinals of the WCHA tournament.

Hirose will join fellow current  BCHLers Ryan Sandelin of the Penticton Vees and Lucas Sowder of the Wenatchee Wild who are also both committed to the Mavericks next year.

This year’s Minnesota State roster is projected to include former Merritt Centennials goalie Jacob Berger and former Wenatchee defenceman Zak Galambos.