Stock rising for Fitzgerald triplets

The evolution of the Fitzgerald triplets has hit the next stage as they look to be NCAA bound for 2014, if not 2013.

Victoria Grizzlies forward Gerry Fitzgerald tries to fend off Langley Rivermen Logan Smith at Bear Mountain Arena on Dec. 2. The Rivermen won 5-1.

The evolution of the Fitzgerald triplets has hit the next stage as they look to be NCAA bound for 2014, if not 2013.

That’s almost a given now as Myles, Leo and Gerry have proved themselves as one of the top lines in the BCHL, carrying the Victoria Grizzlies (17-8-2) to the top of the Island division so far this season.

They lead the team in scoring: Myles with 10 goals, 28 points; Leo with 13 goals, 24 points, in 25 games; and Gerry with 13 goals, 23 points, in 27 games.

They’ve also combined for seven game winning goals, and carry the added responsibility of playing against the league’s top lines on a regular basis.

If any BCHL players stand to benefit from the expanded ice surface common in NCAA rinks, it’s these three.

But there’s a bit of a snag.

Word has it only one of the triplets meets the required GPA to be an NCAA  Div. I athlete, though all three can play NCAA Div. III.

And naturally, all three would like to play together.

“We’ve got Div. III offers on the table but we’re still hoping for a  Div. I (package) deal,” said Leo, who recently separated himself from the other two, for a time, with an honourable Movember effort.

The triplets are three of six brothers, and aren’t the same uniform person they get portrayed as. They also aren’t against splitting up to get the best possible NCAA scholarships. But as long as they have a spot together in a

Div. I school, even the most premium NCAA program would have a tough time driving a wedge between the three to pry just one out.

Consensus amongst most players is to jump on an NCAA Div. I offer, so the Fitzgeralds still have a few things to hammer out if that’s going to happen.

“SATs have to be written, and we’re working on that for now. There are a couple of  Div. I schools are interested in getting all three of us,” Leo said.

Depending on how things play out, this could be the triplets last season together. Though there’s a lot of it left, including the promise of a strong playoff run.

And the triplets are ready to lead the way, having become the players Grizz head coach and general manager Bill Bestwick recognized three years ago. Back in 2009-10, the three were playing in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, Gerry with the Peninsula Panthers and Myles and Leo with the Oceanside Generals. They had hoped to reunite for their hometown Alberni Bulldogs, but Bestwick, then the GM-coach of the Nanaimo Clippers, beat Alberni to it.

Tough to blame Alberni. The Grizzlies too, took a pass, as former GM Jackson Penney had the trio out to prospects camp as 16-year-olds. To be fair, nobody was cracking that 2008-09 Grizzlies’ RBC Cup roster without serious pedigree.

But it’s Bestwick who’s looking genius now, having fished the triplets out of Prince George this off-season. Bestwick has woven a top contender out of a basement dwelling team, thanks in part to the Fitzgeralds’ breakout season.

Earning interest

The BCHL’s showcase weekend, held in Chilliwack in September, brought increased NCAA Div. III interest for the players. Because Div. III schools have smaller budgets than their Div. I counterparts they tend not to scout in person. But thanks to the BCHL’s ingenuity, the showcase has helped remedy that.

Five Grizzlies are committed to NCAA scholarships, Nolan DeJong (University of Michigan), D.J. Jones (West Point), Brady Rouleau (Quinnipiac University), Garrett Skrbich (Princeton  University) to Div. I, and Brett Hartskamp (Marian College) to Div. III.

Grizzlies in line to crack win NCAA Div. I scholarships are youngsters Mitch Meek and Dante Hahn, who will likely remain in the BCHL for one more season. Defenceman Jaden Schmeisser, a former Saanich Brave, is also in that mix. Twenty-year-old David Mazurek is hoping to secure a CIS deal.

sports@vicnews.com

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