Kitimat-born Skylar Pacheco has a bright future of hockey ahead of him, taking the title of Rookie of the Year in the Prince George Spruce Kings hockey team.
The award caps off a season that saw him play in 52 regular season games and four playoff games.
Over the regular season he got one goal and had 15 assists for 16 points. He had one assist in the four playoff games.
Naturally Pacheco is thrilled with the recognition of the award.
“It’s a really big honour,” he told the Sentinel. “[The] coaching staff has been really good to me, giving me a lot of opportunity to play. It’s been a really great year.”
At a 60 game season, Pacheco missed eight of those with a high-ankle sprain.
“In one of the games someone fell on me awkwardly,” he said.
He has since recovered fully from the injury, after being off for about a month.
Pacheco, in grade 12, was playing in a Junior B team, the Creston Thundercats last year, and was a student in the Pursuit of Excellence hockey camp in Kelowna the year prior.
His three-year plan is to get into the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
His success on the ice comes down to using his head more than his physical strength.
“I just have to be smart with the puck,” he said, adding he’s not the biggest or strongest guy on the team.
He is one of many of the outsiders on the team. Only two players on the team are from Prince George, many others from Vancouver, Ontario, Alaska and California.
Spruce Kings General Manager Mike Hawes said that the skill Pacheco brought to the ice was a welcome surprise, who wowed them beyond their expectations for his first year.
“He had a great season for us. It was definitely a pleasant surprise for us. Skylar ended up being a much better player than we even thought he was,” said Hawes.
He said he looks forward to Pacheco’s play over the next few years.
To get Rookie of the Year, he said they look at the athlete’s entire skill set, from their attitude to dedication to their ability on the ice.