School skating is not allowed in the Ivy League, even for hockey players. Victoria Grizzlies forward Luc Pelletier of Courtenay had to master both the classroom and the rink before committing to play in the NCAA division. 1 at Princeton University.
“I’ve been on the island all my life and I’ve never seen buildings this old,” the Courtenay native said of his visit to the campus in Princeton, New Jersey.
It’s a common reaction when West Coasters visit Ivy League schools for the first time thinking they’re in a setting straight out of Harry Potter.
“It’s cobblestones… and the arena [Hobey Baker Memorial Rink] celebrates its 100th anniversary,” said Pelletier.
“I only made one visit [athletic recruiting visits are allowed to five NCAA schools] and I knew this was the place. It hasn’t touched me yet. I never thought that was realistic.
Academic rigor is as important as athletic achievement when it comes to getting into an Ivy, but Pelletier also did it with a perfect grade point average of 4.00.
“I worked hard at school,” he says.
It’s not easy for representative hockey players who constantly have to change cities and schools throughout their careers. Pelletier moved from Mark Isfeld High School in Courtenay to Nanaimo District High School, when he moved down to Harbor City to play for the North Island Silvertips in Major Midget, then to Stelly’s Secondary when he played for the Peninsula Panthers in Junior B and eventually finished in Belmont High School with the Grizzlies of the BC Hockey League. Add an education interrupted by the pandemic and you have a guy who can focus on the books as well as he pucks.
“COVID has been a disruption for all students for the past two years,” he said. “It was tough but I focused…online when it came to that sometimes.”
The third-year Grizzlies left winger, who had five assists in 11 games to start the season, traveled to Princeton in September and cemented his commitment last week at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack attended by more than 100 NCAA and NHL scouts. At six-foot-four and 205 pounds, Pelletier has the kind of body presence scouts covet.
“Princeton said they liked my physical game combined with my hockey IQ, and how I play defensively with the puck, and how I prepare my teammates,” Pelletier said.
“They said they were going to give me every chance to develop as a player.”
The plan is set: “My dream is professional hockey, but after four years of university and graduation.
It’s a plan worked out both in hockey and now in the highest academic circles. As well balanced in the classroom as his game is on the ice, Pelletier said he will major at Princeton in math or English.
Meanwhile, Pelletier and the Grizzlies (5-4-2) will look to extend their three-game winning streak when they face the Chilliwack Chiefs (3-6-1) tonight and the Surrey Eagles (9-1) Saturday night. in a two-game homestand at the Q Center.
“Our offense is starting to kick in and we’re starting to score now, as we remain great defensively,” Pelletier said of the Grizzlies’ recent turnover.
ICE FRIES: Pelletier joins San Jose Sharks defenseman and draft pick Eli Barnett (Vermont), goaltender Ansel Holt (Army) and forward Jack Gorton and defenseman Tim Busconi (both from Boston University) in as Grizzlies who have NCAA Div. 1 commitments. … Six-foot-two Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Owen Beckner of Victoria, Grizzlies defenseman Hoyt Stanley and Vernon Vipers defenseman Dylan Compton of Victoria, of Shawnigan Lake School, are among the nine current players of the BCHL ranked for the 2023 NHL draft by Central Scouting in its first assessment released this week … Matthew Wood, Nanaimo product and former Grizzlies star forward, now with the UConn Huskies in the NCAA, is ranked as a first-round prospect with many pundits projecting it into the top 10.