NANAIMO – The VIU Mariners hockey team is going in to the Christmas break in second place in the BCIHL.
They sit at 7-5-0-1, four points back of first place Trinity Western.
VIU is being led offensively by Dallas Calvin with 18 points and Brett Witala who has 17.
The are also the top scorers in the BCIHL.
Calvin is in his first year with the Mariners after spending the past three seasons at Selkirk College, while Witala is a rookie who finished his junior career with the Kelowna Chiefs last season.
Coach Steve Paul says he's pleased with the first half.
“It's been a big change from last year, we've had a lot of new guys come in and buy into the program nicely. The big thing we're doing here is these guys are having fun,” said Paul.
The five team league allows athletes to continue playing at a high level after their junior careers end.
Ottawa product Adam Morton is one of the players who appreciates the opportunity the BCIHL offers.
The BCIHL is a very competitive league and I do feel lucky to be able to keep playing at this age. Some people don't think you'll be able keep playing after your junior career so this is a good opportunity for a lot of guys and I enjoy it,” said Morton.
Paul says the inaugural season provided some lessons like getting to know the league, and what players at the college level are looking from their hockey experience.
He notes it's a lot different than junior knowing that there aren't any trades, so guys don't have to be wondering where they're going to be next week.
He calls the Mariners a family atmosphere.
During the season VIU will play twice most weekends and they'll get together through out the week for practice Monday and Wednesday, dryland training on Tuesday and video sessions Thursday.
Paul says the players are also actively out in the community as well.
Both he and manager Myles Parsons commented on how well Nanaimo has embraced the team and they hope the Mariners and the BCIHL will catch on with more local hockey fans.
After Christmas VIU will return with a home and home series against UVIC on January 4thand 5th.
They start down in Victoria with the return engagement at the Nanaimo Ice Centre on Saturday the 5th.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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