If you think the name Sharky Nowek sounds interesting, wait until you hear his story.
The 15-year-old goaltender, who only started skating in 2016 after his family moved to Penticton from the Caribbean, just received one of the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association’s biggest awards. .
Known as the John Boscha Memorial Trophy, the award is given annually to the most valuable player at the U18 competitive level (formerly known as the Midget Representative) as determined by other players from across the Okanagan.
Nowek spent most of last season with the South Zone U18 AA team, based in Penticton and made up of players from West Kelowna through Osoyoos.
Thanks in part to the solid goalie received from Nowek, South Zone finished the regular season ranked second with an 11-7-2-0 record.
“We ended up losing (in the playoffs) to Central Zone, who went undefeated all year. From their first game to the provincials, they won every game. We had good games against them, but they were better,” said South Zone coach Wade Parker.
Nowek’s record was 8-3-1, with a 1.86 goals-against average, .956 save percentage and two shutouts.
“Sharky brought a lot of confidence. He plays with a lot of composure. He’s a great athlete,” Parker said.
“The players really felt they could play their game when Sharky was playing because they didn’t have to worry about playing defense first because they knew he would make the big saves for us.”
Nowek has committed to playing with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s U18 prep team in Penticton next season in hopes of getting more attention from scouts.
“I would like to go to junior A and take the college or university route,” he says.
Now let’s move on to his story.
Nowek’s father, Myles, is from Penticton and met his future wife, Eliza, from Romania, when the two worked on cruise ships.
The couple married and settled in Penticton, where Sharky was born, then moved to the Caribbean when their son was just 11 months old.
Myles “used to feed sharks in the Caribbean. We lived there for 10 years and (the sharks) were his babies, so he said, “Let’s call our first son Sharky,” Eliza explained.
“Actually (Myles) wanted to call him Shark, but I said, ‘Shark is a bit tough. Why not call him Sharky?… That’s how we came up with his name. His brother’s name is Ocean to match him.
It wasn’t until the family returned to Penticton in 2016 that Nowek put on skates for the first time and quickly rose through the ranks of competitive hockey.