BCHL forward Alex Petan, from Delta, British Columbia, is next in our weekly Future Huskies series. Alex is a smaller forward (5’9″, 175 lbs.) who really prides himself on his speed and quickness. Darcy Rota, a former NHL player and current president of the Coquitlam Express (BCHL), recruited Alex as a 17-year-old. He had a rough roookie campaign for the then-Burnaby Express, but his stats have improved throughout his junior career and he currently sits ninth among all players with 59 points (24 goals and 35 assists) in 39 games. Alex made his decision to join the Huskies this past October after a great start to his third season with Coquitlam.
He’s the captain of the Express under Head Coach Jon Calvano, who took the job after Petan’s first year with the team. Coach Calvano loved Petan’s skills and compete level so he gave him the opportunity to play alongside a couple good players in Massimo Lamacchia and Destry Straight, who both currently play Division I hockey for Brown and Boston College, respectively. Petan took that opportunity and began to flourish, showing dramatic improvement, highlighting his skill set perfectly. When the season ended, Coach Calvano and his staff challenged Alex to improve his play and leadership. Over that summer, Alex remained focused on training down in Vancouver with the same trainer as Markus Naslund. We asked Coach Calvano about that summer, this season, and Alex as a college player. Here’s what he had to say:
He put a lot of time and effort into getting stronger, quicker and improve his speed. This season he came in and was named the captain of our team. He took that role very well. His level of play at the start of the season was great for us. He came out strong and has been real productive and really hasn’t taken a step back all year. As a college prospect, he’s a fast skater that can handle the puck very well at a high speed, with a very good outside shot. He can be deadly from the perimeter as a scorer. Time and space is going to be taken away from him there, it will take him some time to get used to that and adjust to the speed and level of the game.
Since Alex Petan has signed a national letter of intent, we’re allowed to talk to the Huskies coaching staff about Alex and what he’ll bring to Michigan Tech. Here’s what Head Coach Mel Pearson had to say:
Alex follows a long line of BCHL players who have decided to play at Michigan Tech. He’s very creative offensively, and he has really come into his own this year. We look for Alex to add some offensive punch to our lineup. He possesses outstanding puck skills and is a dynamic skater.
Assistant Coach Damon Whitten took a moment to discuss Alex too:
Alex is a very skilled, dynamic offensive player. He’s had a great year in the BCHL, currently a top ten scorer in that league so he should be able to come in and help us create offensively. He’s an undersized forward that’s a really good skater and has a lot of skill. We look for him to be a scorer and a playmaker.
Our interview with Alex Petan:
THG: You’ve made your decision to play college hockey at Michigan Tech. Can you tell us a little bit about your decision to become a Husky?
I had a few options at the beginning of the year. I kind of made up my mind pretty fast. The opportunity at Michigan Tech was quite high for me not only for the hockey aspect but the schooling. It kind of has exactly what I’ve wanted to get into my whole life, so I’m really excited to become a Husky.
THG: So what is that academic program?
Throughout high school, I always wanted to become a trainer or a physiotherapist, something like that. From what I’ve heard, the exercise science program is very good and I was quite excited.
THG: So you mentioned you had a couple of options, what were the other schools that contacted you?
I had talked to a few schools at the beginning of the year. Obviously, we were having success as a team and I was individually, so there were a couple schools in Minnesota and a couple from Boston, as well. I did my homework, laid out my options and Michigan Tech was the best way to go for me.
THG: Were you in contact with any teams before your success this season?
No, actually, this year as a 19-year-old was kind of the first year I actually talked to schools face to face and on the phone. Last year, at the end of the season there were couple and over the summer I spoke with Michigan Tech and others before the season started.
THG: The Huskies made a change to bring in Mel Pearson with his 23 years of experience next to Red Berenson at Michigan. How much did he play a role in your decision? Who recruited you and how did that whole process work out for you?
I was aware the change. Part of the recruiting process was a lot about Mel Pearson so I got the background on him and how he played college as well. Bill Muckalt was the one I talked to throughout the summer and this year back and forth about everything. Obviously I met [Mel Pearson] when I was down there for my visit, but with everything that was said, he seems like a great coach and I’m super excited.
THG: When did you make your official visit to Houghton, who showed you around and what were your impressions of Houghton and Michigan Tech?
I made a visit at the end of November. Bill [Muckalt] took me from the airport and showed me around campus. We met up with Mel [Pearson] and a couple of the other staff members. They showed me around the rink and they showed me all the facilities. It was super cool, I kind of got chills up and down my spine when I was walking around on campus. It was kind of an eye opener realizing that I was going to be going here.
THG: What did it mean to you, to be named the captain of the Coquitlam Express this season?
It was a huge honor. I’ve been here three seasons now, I’ve been very close to the captains during my time here. I learned a lot from them and I took it into the summer last year. I set a goal for myself to be one of the leaders of the team and I put a lot of effort into that over the summer. It was very cool, I’ve very close with the coach and when they called my name, it was an honor to take on that role.
THG: How much did playing with division prospects like Destry Straight (Boston College) and Massimo Lamacchia (Brown) help you elevate your game and improve as a player?
It was a huge step, and obviously throughout the season, I was hanging out on the third line, but I picked up my play at the end of the season and got the opportunity to play with Massimo and Destry. It was an instant connection, but I had to bring my “A” game every night. It was a lot of fun.
THG: Coach Whitten described you as a dynamic forward. He said you’re as much a scorer as a playmaker. What do you think of that? What are you better at, scoring goals or setting up teammates?
Obviously, with the season I’m having so far this year, I’ve never been a high goal scorer in my life, but I’ve been putting the puck in the net lately. With Coach Whitten saying that, I feel that I’m more of a playmaker than a goal scorer but I’m going to do my best to fit what ever role they need me to.
THG: Have you talked to any of the other BCHL players headed to Tech next season like Jujhar Khaira?
]Yeah, I got the opportunity to talk to Jujhar during the Canada West Sectional Camp. We spoke a little bit about next year, and how we’re both really excited. The other guy I’ve been talking to is Walker Hyland over at Alberni Valley. I’ve been chatting with him every week, catching up and talking about heading off to Michigan Tech.
THG: I asked Coach Calvano what he thought you needed to work on most before College, and he said you’ll need to find a way to adjust quickly to the lack of time and space with the higher level of competition. What do you think of that?
I totally agree, obviously Jon and I have been talking about next year, and he’s been saying the same thing to me. Telling me it’s going to be quicker and tougher and you’re going to have to make decisions that much faster. I’m really excited for it and this summer I’ll be working on getting my strength up and develop my speed.
THG: What do you think is your biggest weakness? Something you’ll need to work on to become a better player at the College level?
The strength part of the game has been the weakest part of my game. Every summer I work on it, my explosiveness and always working on my skating. You can always get better at that, so I continue to work on it.
THG: Anything you want Michigan Tech fans to know?
Going down there was a big thing for me, and I feel like it’s going to be a great fit for me. I’m just counting down the days until I head to Houghton. I look forward to starting my college career.