This time next year, Merritt Centennials forward Matthew Kopperud will be experiencing a much different climate as he will be heading to the desert to play for the Arizona State Sun Devils for the 2019-20 season.
Kopperud has gotten off to a hot start in his second BCHL season, scoring four goals and adding four assists, tying him for second in points on the Centennials, who are the league’s highest-scoring team so far this year. The 19-year-old from Denver, Colo. played in 40 games for Merritt last year, where he scored nine goals and added eight assists. He also chipped in with one goal in the postseason.
Despite his hot start this season, Centennials head coach Joe Martin admits this connection has been years in the making.
“He’s slowly gotten to know their staff,” said Martin in a release on the Centennials website. “They’ve kept on him and done their homework and Matt’s had a great start to the season, a really good summer and has taken advantage of the ice time given to him. So it might seem quick, seem like it came out of nowhere, but they’ve had their eye on him for quite a while.”
Arizona State is currently an NCAA Div. I independent school, playing against other Div. I teams, but not belonging to any conference. The Sun Devils are expected to join a conference in the near future, but will continue playing as an independent for the 2018-19 season.
This year’s Sun Devils freshman class features several BCHL alums, including former Vernon Viper Jordan Sandhu, former Chilliwack Chief PJ Marracco and former Prince George Spruce King Evan DeBrouwer. Former Merritt Centennial Jake Clifford will also play his senior season with Arizona State this year.
Penticton Vees forward Sammy Steele and Vernon Vipers defenceman Jack Judson are the only other two current BCHLers committed to Arizona State.