(By Alex Hoegler, BCHL communications)
For most hockey players, having your season ends means a long wait until the next one. For Coquitlam Express alum Alex Petan, the next season starts now.
Just days after his NCAA team, Michigan Tech, had its postseason come to an end, Petan will get an amateur tryout with the American Hockey League (AHL) Iowa Wild, affiliate team to the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
“(I’m) a little nervous, a little excited, a lot of different emotions going through,” said Petan. “I’m really excited finishing the year off with Iowa.”
The 23-year-old played with the Express from 2009-10 to 2011-12, scoring 54 goals and 128 points in 155 games. He was the 2012 Coastal Conference MVP, after a 38-goal, 88-point season.
Petan was named the 2016 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Player of the Year, and is a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top NCAA men’s hockey player.
Though multiple teams showed interest in Petan, it was easy for him to accept the Wild’s offer.
“They showed the most interest, they said good things, (they’re) interested in the type of player I bring (to) the table,” Petan said. “I’m looking forward to just proving it’s what they want.”
The Delta, B.C. native is not a complete stranger to his new club either as childhood friend and former minor hockey teammate Grayson Downing is already there. Downing played three years with the West Kelowna Warriors before an NCAA career at New Hampshire. He is in his second season with Iowa.
“It’s kind of nice to have someone like that to give you some tips… make you calm down and make you feel more comfortable,” Petan said.
Petan isn’t the only member of his family to join the pro ranks. His younger brother, Nic, is in his rookie season with the Winnipeg Jets and starred for Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championships, winning a gold medal.
“We were very close (growing up)… Back then, three years apart is kind of a big difference. I challenged him to play up to my level and my strength,” Petan said. “We’re grown up now and the same size. He’s doing real well and I’m definitely looking up to him these days.”
Despite the many accomplishments he had this year, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound forward knows not to take the pros lightly.
“You’re going to see some changes. You’re going to be talking to guys who have made the jump from the college to pros,” he said. “The quickness and decision making, I’m trying to prepare for that. For me, I’m going to play my game and keep things simple out there.”