Leadership comes in many forms and in the hockey world it’s key to team success. As the Selkirk Saints head into the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) playoffs in search of a third straight league title, leading the charge will be a captain who has brought a work ethic and attitude that’s helped turn an entire program around.
Trail-raised Logan Proulx played his last BCIHL regular season game this past weekend at Eastern Washington University. Like he has in the previous 67 regular season games he has played at this level, Proulx made an impact scoring a goal and keeping his team focused.
An important part of two Selkirk College league championships, Saints captain Logan Proulx is leading his team into the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey Championship playoffs starting this weekend at the Castlegar Recreation Centre.
Heading into the BCIHL semi-finals this weekend at the Castlegar Recreation Centre, if the Saints are going to knock off the University of Victoria and make a push towards a three-peat, Proulx’s leadership on and off the ice will be once again put to the test.
“I’m having a good time,” says Proulx, who plays the game with a spirited zest that is unmatched. “I don’t think there is any room at this level for any negativity and as the captain I try to lead that way.”
And lead he has.
Proulx arrived to Selkirk College at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season to a Saints program that had been the doormat of the league for five seasons, winning only 13 times in 104 regular season games. Over the last three seasons the Saints have won an impressive 55 games in 72 games and captured two provincial titles. In that time, Proulx has notched 108 points—or 1.6 per game—and has been an integral part of both championship seasons.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we would come out of here with two championships,” says the 23-year-old Proulx.
Growing Up in the Home of Champions
Proulx cut his on-ice teeth in one of Canada’s legendary hockey communities. There are few small towns that can boast the kind of success Trail has had at the senior, junior and minor hockey levels.
“You hear it from a young age,” Proulx says about growing up in the Home of Champions. “It’s pretty unreal as a young kid to see World Championships in Trail, it’s unbelievable when you think about it. There have been great minor hockey teams that have come out of Trail over the years on a consistent basis, I think a lot of that has to do with the aura. I’m glad that I grew up and had the opportunity to play in Trail.”
Proulx has amassed an impressive 1.6 points per game in the 68 regular season BCIHL games he has played in.
Proulx was a standout on the ice from an early age. Though relatively small in stature, his blazing speed and touch around the net helped his minor hockey teams to many successful seasons.
Proulx made the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters as a 16-year-old, but a broken ankle early in pre-season sidelined him. By the time his ankle was rehabilitated, the Smoke Eaters were at the deadline to solidify their roster and needed more help on the blueline than at forward. The decision was made to head to Alberta where Proulx was also a prospect for the Western Hockey League’s expansion Edmonton Oil Kings.
Making the jump to major junior hockey rather than pursuing the US college route is a dilemma many young hockey players face in their career. Proulx made that choice at a young age.
“It was always the Western League for me, but it is extremely tough to make a decision of that magnitude when you are 16 years old,” he says. “My mom and dad didn’t get involved, they let it be all my decision. It was one of the biggest decisions I have ever had to make, but it was a great experience and taught me a lot.”
Proulx played 14 games as a 16-year-old in the WHL in the 2007-2008 season and followed it up with two more seasons in Edmonton. When he was 19, Proulx headed back to the West Kootenay and played one season for Trail Smoke Eaters before finishing his junior career in the 2011-2012 season with the Cowichan Valley Capitals.
The Selkirk College Advantage
With three years of a WHL scholarship available to him, once his junior career was over Proulx changed his focus. He found it close to home with Selkirk College’s Recreation, Fish & Wildlife Program.
“I had my eye on the program for years,” he says. “I have always been an outdoorsy guy and have a passion for it. I’ve always thought: why do something if you don’t love it. You work for the majority of your life and I want to work outdoors.
Proulx (in the centre of the photo with the trophy from last season) has been a key member of both BCIHL championship teams.
“I wasn’t even thinking about hockey. When I made the decision to come to Selkirk College I thought maybe it was over and I would just focus on school.”
At that point, the Selkirk College hockey program had new energy with recently hired head coach Jeff Dubois. The new coach spoke to Proulx and he became a key member of the 2012-2013 team that only had four returning players.
“I had no idea who a lot of the guys were and they didn’t really know who I was,” says Proulx. “But it was absolutely amazing how instantly we gelled as a group. I’ve never seen anything like it, coming together with four lines that have instant chemistry… it’s hard to believe it.”
The team went on a 13-game winning streak to start the season and blazed their way to a 21-3-0 regular season record. Named assistant captain, Proulx finished second to captain Jordan Wood in team scoring and was key in the team’s championship series victory over Simon Fraser University.
Chosen team captain for the 2013-2014 season, Proulx took charge and led the team in scoring with 42 points on the way to a second straight championship last spring against Trinity Western University.
The Challenge of Three
The quality program Selkirk College has built has helped set a new standard in the BCIHL. The league is now a coveted post-junior destination and the level of play has been raised.
The Saints have been pushed harder by the opposition this season. Injuries and inconsistency resulted in a challenging first semester, but in 2015 have once again shown signs that a third title is within reach.
“You have to stay resilient,” Proulx says of the early season struggles. “As a leadership group we had to make sure everybody stuck together. We know that it’s all up to what we do on the ice and going out there and expecting to win. You need to have a certain confidence when you have a culture like we do, it can be a powerful thing.”
If the Saints are to taste another magical post-season, Proulx will once again be relied upon for leadership. He is not alone. Four other Saints have been part of the previous two championships—Thomas Hardy, Mason Spear, Lucas Hildebrand and Jackson Garrett—and the veteran group will need to be better than ever in the next two weeks.
Preparing for the Start of a New Journey
Proulx’s success on the ice has been matched by his work in the classroom. Over the last three years, he has managed to find a balance that works.
“Academics is absolutely number-one for me at this stage of my life,” says Proulx. “Hockey is a close second because it’s a place I can come to be with the team and get a little bit of an escape from school. But I absolutely love going to school every day, the program I am in, the people in my classes and the instructors. Getting to go to the rink is a bonus.”
When the 2014-2015 wraps up, Proulx will be considered one of the greatest players to ever pull on a Selkirk Saints jersey.
Set to graduate from Selkirk College this April, he has already made plans to complete two more years of post-secondary. In September, Proulx will attend Lethbridge College where he will work towards a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Conservation Enforcement.
Lethbridge College doesn’t have a hockey team which means the next two weeks will very likely be Proulx’s last taste of competitive hockey. And there would be no better way to cap off a great hockey career than with one more taste of glory.
“There are a lot of emotions at this point,” he says. “Mostly I’m happy because I had such a great time while I was here and have enjoyed it so much. I’m proud to be a Saint… for sure.”
The BCIHL semi-final starts on Friday night at the Castlegar Recreation Centre with the puck dropping at 8 p.m. Game two is Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. and if necessary the third game will be played on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.