The Selkirk College Saints didn’t need to look far to find a pair of top forward prospects to join the recruiting class for the upcoming 2018-2019 British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) season.
As the Saints gear up to plot a return to the BCIHL championship final, Saints’ head coach Brent Heaven has announced that Beaver Valley Nighthawks graduate Nolan Percival and Castlegar Rebels graduate Chris Breese will be on the roster starting in September.
“We have excellent hockey programs in our region with a wealth of Kootenay International Junior Hockey League [KIJHL] teams that have helped us build on our success over the years,” says Heaven, who will be returning behind the bench for his fourth season as head coach. “Getting an opportunity to have these players reach the post-secondary stage of their career is one of the important pillars of our program.”
Percival grew up in the Nelson Minor Hockey Association, played one season with the Major Midget Kootenay Ice and broke into the KIJHL as a 16-year-old with the Nelson Leafs. The 5’9” speedster was traded to the Nitehawks midway through the 2015-2016 season where he went on to help lead the Fruitvale-based team to a league and provincial championship in 2017.
“I chose Selkirk College because my former junior teammates have spoken very highly about the program,” says Percival, who will be studying in the School of University Arts & Sciences. “The success the Saints have enjoyed over the last few years makes it an exciting place to play.”
Percival will be joining former teammates Tyler Hartman, Devin Nemes and Tallon Kramer in the Saints dressing room for the upcoming season. With a total of 230 games played in the KIJHL over a five-year junior career, Percival brings a load of experience to Selkirk College.
“Nolan is a hard working great two-way player and one that we feel will be extremely useful in all situations,” says Heaven. “Coming off a very successful campaign from which he received the most sportsmanlike award for the KIJHL, we know that he will bring a great deal of experience, but also very strong character to our program.”
Originally from rural Alberta, Breese played two of his final three junior seasons with the Castlegar Rebels. This past season he finished in the top-10 of league scoring with 21 goals and 38 assists.
“I have grown to love the West Kootenay and heard great things about the Selkirk College program, the recent success of the Saints speaks for itself,” says Breese, who spent a season in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Drayton Valley Thunder in 2016-2017. “I will bring a 200-foot game and unfinished business. I didn’t have the success in junior hockey that I would have liked and am now more determined to help Selkirk College win another title.”
Breese will start his post-secondary education in the School of Academic Upgrading with an eye on shifting into a trades program. At 6’2” and 200 pounds, the 20-year-old is expected to be a force.
“Chris is a big powerful forward with offensive upside,” says Heaven. “He has spent time playing at the Junior A and Junior B level where he had success at both. A proven playoff performer, we feel that Chris will be able to adjust to the BCIHL very quickly. The Saints are very happy to be able to add another player from our hometown Castlegar Rebels organization.”
The Saints finished second overall in the BCIHL regular season in 2017-2018 and lost to Trinity Western University in the championship final series. The Selkirk College team has won four provincial championships over the last six seasons and will begin training camp in early-September.