I want to send out a huge congratulations to 16 year old defenceman Eric Walker who today committed to Northern Michigan University for a full ride scholarship starting in the 2011-2012 NCAA season. Walker has impressed many with his sound and physical play as a young rookie through the first month and a half of his BCHL career. The scouts were circling early and Northen Michigan grabbed him. Of note Walker's uncle Steve Bozek (check out the the resemblance to a young Bozek) went to Northern Michigan for three seasons. Eric told me that talking to his uncle helped convince him that this was the right move for him to make.
If you look at the other side of the family his uncle Gord Walker and Gord's son Luke Walker both went the Western Hockey League route. Given Eric's size, strength and mature play he will certainly be a target of WHL clubs. However, it looks like Walker is going to play this year and next with Trail before heading off to college. I think it's a great move for him. You can already see a special player developing and he's getting the opportunity to learn in all situations on a young Smokies back end. I'm looking forward to seeing how much he grows over the next year and a half.
This also marks the second consecutive year that Trail's lone 16 year old found an NCAA home so early in his BCHL career. There is so much talent in the West Kootenay region. Travis St. Denis of Trail of course got his full ride to Quinnipiac last season and now Walker -- a Castlegar boy -- joins him as a 16 year old writing his ticket for a great education. Smokies forward Sam Mellor also earned a scholarship as a 16 year old, but he did it in the KIJHL.
Tune in to Mountain FM's Overtime tonight for an interview with Walker and audio reaction to Trail's games against Cowichan Valley and Prince George on the weekend. I also have my first interviews with new Smokies Mitch Kaufmann and Josh McEwan. Again that's tonight from 6pm to 10pm on Mountain FM. I'll have the audio on the blog sometime after it all airs on the radio. Also don't forget tomorrow night's broadcast of Nelson Ford Trail Smoke Eaters play by play live in Burnaby.
Congrats again, Eric! It's well deserved.
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