Joining the Grizzly pack is a dream come true for Cole Pickup.
“I grew up playing in this rink,” Pickup said during hockey practice at Bear Mountain arena. “I grew up watching the Salsa and Grizzlies play here.”
He started playing at six years-old with Juan de Fuca minor hockey in Colwood. Between those early days of JDF minor hockey and his start with the Victoria Grizzlies Junior A club, Pickup played two years in major midget. At 15 he played for the Thunderbirds and the following year the team changed its name to the Royals.
“It’s a weird feeling watching the (Grizzlies) when you are young thinking the players are so old and now I am on the team,” said Pickup, one of the three 17 year olds on the team. While this is his first full season with the Grizzlies, Pickup started last year cracking the roster during playoffs.
“Cole is pretty gifted offensively,” said Scott Hawthrone, Grizzlies associate coach. “He’s a young guy on a fairly skilled team.”
Pickup, also a Grade 12 student at Belmont secondary school, started on the fourth line and worked his way up to the second line.
Pickup came out strong offensively, Hawthorne said, but the teen is steadily developing his defensive skills.
“He’s had to learn a lot and learn that it’s not just all offensive on the ice,” Hawthorn said.
Pickup hopes to someday secure a scholarship and play hockey on a college team.