How many 13-year-olds have their own cheering section? Not many, but there’s always an enthusiastic group to cheer on Jalen Price every time he laces up the skates.
For example, at the Island Tier 2 peewee hockey final, a large group of Price fans were in the stands at the Rod Brind’Amour Arena to watch the young sniper and his talented teammates crush Saanich 14-3.
Included in the group were several young ladies holding a homemade sign reading: We (heart symbol) Jalen.
And the team captain didn’t disappoint, scoring five times and adding a hat track in the romp which led the way to an eventual B.C. Tier 2 title.
“Jalen’s got a lot of talent,” says peewee coach Pat Corrado. “He’s a gifted hockey player but, more importantly, he works hard in practice…he cares.”
In 58 games for the KLP Construction peewee A Tyees, Price scored 112 goals, plus 48 assists for 160 points. And at the provincials, he scored 18 times in five games.
At the family home in Campbell River, Price talked about his marvelous season, giving credit to the coaching staff, his fellow players and one linemate in particular.
“Noah Fladager makes some nice passes,” Price says with a grin.
Action, not words, is more Price’s style as he pursues his dream, “To make the NHL.”
You hear that a lot from young hockey players, but few have Price’s size, speed, talent and work ethic. He just turned 13 in February yet he already stands 5’11” – and growing – and weighs in at a very fit 125 pounds.
His scoring stats speak to his talent, but fitness and practice will make him better.
“He was a great leader because he led by example and works hard in practice,” says Corrado. “He’s quiet, but he’s like a Steve Yzerman type – follow what I do and we’ll be okay.”
The work ethic began at home. His dad Dustin was also quite the young hockey player while growing up in Victoria. Dustin challenged his oldest son – the second oldest of four kids – to do better than the “ol’ man” and Jalen did just that with this remarkable season.
Father and son share a close relationship, regularly working out together doing push-ups, sit-ups crunches and running. It’s the type of workout that pleases Coach Corrado who doesn’t push his still-growing players to get into heavy weight lifting at such a young age.
However, the weight room will become important hang-out for Price if he wants to continue on his path. He’s playing spring hockey for a Comox-based regional team and he’s on the Vancouver Selects who travelled to tournaments in Winnipeg, Toronto and Minnesota in May.
Price’s mom, Kara, points out the players on the Selects are all about as big and fast as her boy, anwwers who carry the puck a lot are targets for the opposition.
Price has the support of his family, coaches, teammates and sponsor Corby Lamb of Capacity Forest Management, but his biggest group of fans are fellow members of the Campbell River Indian Band, including Chief Bob Pollard. The band has helped provide financial support for Price’s travel and many members travelled to Victoria to see the Tyees win the provincial championship.
Sitting on the living room couch, Price says he needs to improve his skating and shooting, and he also finds the time to get pretty good marks in his Grade 7 classes at Ecole Phoenix Middle School.
“He’s getting As and Bs. We’re pretty proud of him,” says his mom.
This fall, Price expects to be on the bantam rep hockey team.