Terrace’s Henry Hart is used to being one of the bigger guys on the team.
But that’s no longer the case with his new gig playing defense for the University of Victoria Vikes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League. At 18, he’s the youngest player on the team – a different situation than his last season playing for the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
“A lot faster, a lot bigger guys,” he said, on the phone from Victoria last week on his new league. “In 100 Mile I was one of the bigger guys, going into this league there are guys way bigger than me – they’re all fully grown men.”
But that means his teammates are older too, something Hart says is helping him mature as a player and in attitude.
“It’s a lot of ex-Jr. B and ex-Jr. A players, so it’s a really high skilled league. There’s a lot of good guys on the team,” he said.
After spending his final year of school playing in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for the 100 Mile House Wranglers, he decided to go straight to university instead of spending another year in juniors.
Accepted into UVic, where he’s studying engineering with the end goal of working with computers in software or engineering, he walked on at Vikes’ camp tryouts over the summer and made the team – ensuring he’d have the best of both worlds on campus.
“Education is super important and I felt that if I didn’t go to school right away I might lose some of the stuff I’ve learned in high school and have a disadvantage going to school if I waited,” said Hart.
“It worked out because I made the team. I’m still playing hockey and going to school. It’s awesome,” he said.
His coach, Harry Schamhart said the team is glad to have him on board.
“We’re very lucky to have Henry on our team,” said Schamhart. “He’s a very good hockey player and is a starting D-man for the Vikes.”
Hart’s role on the team is all defense.
“I’m kind of like your stay-at-home defensemen, I’m a penalty killer,” he said. “I kill penalties and I’m not really offensive, I’m more defensive minded – I stop a lot of goals, I don’t get scored on.”
At press time, the team, which last won a championship in 2012, was sitting at 3-3 for the season so far.
If Hart had to pick the team’s biggest rival so far, he said Eastern Washington was a tough contender “because they’re a dirty, rough team and always really big so there’s a lot of chirping and a lot of behind the scenes kind of stuff on the ice. A lot of scrums.”
But Hart laughed when asked if he was a scrapper.
“I wouldn’t say that, no. These guys are a lot bigger than I am, so I keep my gloves on,” he said.