Ridley centre heads west
Nicholas Athanasakos is one step closer to his dream.
The 17-year-old, Grade 12 student at Ridley College has committed to the Prince George Spruce Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League for the 2021/22 season in hopes of securing a NCAA scholarship.
“The plan is to play in BC and hopefully commit to a D1 school to play hockey. Hopefully if I have a good year next year it will lead to something bigger,” the Unionville native said. “The BCHL is a bigger league. There are a lot of older guys and it’s fast. It’s definitely going to be a lot harder but this is just a step to my next goal.”
Athanasakos can’t wait to get started on his new journey.
“There will be a lot of work put in over the summer,” he said. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do. I love playing hockey. I’m willing to sacrifice.
“It’s hard on my friends and family because I’m moving across the country and it’s also hard on myself.”
Athanasakos, a smooth-skating forward who was selected by the Niagara IceDogs in the eighth round of the 2019 Ontario Hockey League draft, gives credit to Ridley boys hockey coach Mike McCourt for opening the door in Prince George.
“Coach McCourt really helped me reaching out to teams and getting me some exposure,” he said. “He had a big impact on that.
“Ridley has a pretty big name for itself. It attracted a lot of attention.”
McCourt feels Athanasakos will thrive at the next level.
“Nicholas is a player who has continued to grow and develop over his time here into a very effective player,” McCourt said. “Nicholas is a good skater that plays with energy and tenacity. Nicholas works extremely hard and can play a skilled game or an abrasive physical style. He has matured both on and off the ice and we are thrilled at the opportunity in front of him.”
Athanasakos wasn’t able to visit Prince George in person due to COVID restrictions, but did connect with Spruce Kings head coach Alex Evin and their scouting staff via Zoom.
“I definitely I had to put a lot of trust in them but this is something that has been on my goal list for a while,” he said. “It was something I really wanted to do and I’m willing to sacrifice a lot for it.
“It’s a big step for me, but I think it will be worth it.”
Evin came away impressed with his new recruit.
“Nicholas is a quality young person who represents a lot of what our organization strives to be both on and off the ice,” Evin said. “He is tenacious, competitive, and has a great work ethic. He will make our team harder to play against.”
Athanasakos is relieved to have his future mapped out.
“As the year went on I wasn’t really nervous. I knew that something would come my way,” he said. “It’s definitely stressful but now it feels like there’s a weight off my shoulders. I can just focus on the rest of the school year and put my mind to my academics and get through the rest of the year.”
Athanasakos will miss Ridley.
“These past two years have been nothing but great. You really get the best of both worlds with the academics and the athletics. It’s a perfect place. There are not many places like it in the world,” he said.
Dear reader. If you liked this story or one of the 3,200 other stories found on our website, please consider hitting the Support Us button on the right-hand side of our home page and making a PayPal contribution to our website. Your support would be much appreciated.