Photo credit: Garrett James Photography
By Sheldon Lee
Danny Pearson’s three-year BCHL career came to an end last month when his Coquitlam Express wrapped up their pod season schedule. Because of the pandemic, it was a far-from-normal season on many accounts, but at the end of the day, the 21-year-old forward was just grateful for the opportunity to close out his junior career on the ice, rather than being stuck at home unable to play.
Now that we are a month out from the final chapter of his BCHL journey, he was able to reflect on his last season in the league and his team’s third-place finish in the Coquitlam Pod.
“We were a young team,” he said. “A lot of younger guys who got their first taste of Junior A hockey are going to come back that much better next year. As for myself, it was more important preparation for me to take that next step before heading off to college. Sure, it wasn’t the way we wanted to finish off the year, but you can always find positives.”
That kind of mentality does not go unnoticed. Going into his third year with the Express, Pearson was given a vote of confidence from his club who named him captain for the 2021 season. It was decision that Pearson felt very much humbled by.
“It was an honour,” he said. “I’ve been here for three years and had a couple of really good captains before me. I learned a lot from those guys. It was definitely nice to get to wear the ‘C’ this year.”
Becoming captain was never a point of focus for Pearson. Despite the added pressure and attention that comes with it, the Vancouver, B.C. native remained focused on his job on the ice and simply sticking to his daily routine.
“I never tried to change who I was,” said Pearson. “I did my best to go about my business as usual and try my best to lead by example. I think anytime you’re named the leader of a team, it adds a little pressure and I may have added a little extra pressure on myself. You have to lead the team, not just on the ice, but off the ice as well. You’re the voice of the team. You’ve got to make sure you always have a positive mindset. It helps keep the room together.”
Three years can go by in the blink of an eye. Pearson made sure to make the most of every opportunity that came his way and now looks back on his BCHL career with fond memories.
“The BCHL has always taken care of me,” he said. “They made sure I was ready for my next hockey endeavor in college and I’m extremely thankful for that. It’s just a great league. It prepared me for life beyond hockey as well and I’m very fortunate to have gotten to play in it.”
Three years in the same league and on the same team can definitely have its ups and downs, but there is one moment in particular that stands out to Pearson when he reflects on his time in Coquitlam.
“It would have to be when we clinched the Ron Boileau trophy [as regular-season champions] last year in Penticton,” he said. “That was certainly one of the best moments and we could have created more memories if the season didn’t come to a screeching halt, but it was for sure one of the high points.”
A bunch of new memories await Pearson who is taking his talents to state of Massachusetts. There he will join the Bentley University Falcons and begin his career in NCAA Division I hockey, a new challenge that he is excited to face head on.
“It all came together last year right around our first playoff series,” said Pearson. “I got a call from the coach with the news that they had offered me a scholarship and it was a no-brainer for me. Bentley had always been one of my top schools.”
Bentley is widely considered to be one of the best business institutions in the U.S. and Pearson is just as thrilled for the academic experience as anything else.
“I’m really excited to get back to school,” said Pearson. “It’s kind of weird to say that, but having been out of school for a couple years now, it’s definitely exciting to get back into the classroom.”
With only a few months until his departure down south, Pearson has a pretty good idea of how he plans to spend the rest of his offseason.
“This is a bit of a weird offseason because we finished so late, so there’s not a ton of downtime before I have to turn the jets back on,” he said. “I’m going to be doing a lot of training, maybe get in some golf, visit with my family and make sure I’m fully prepared for next year.”