Kimberley Dynamiter Noah Danforth noticed there weren’t a lot of opportunities to play collegiate hockey next season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current situation has created uncertainties for programs, which he says many weren’t really recruiting a lot. Because of that, the Edmonton native is grateful a shot came up with the Vancouver Island University Mariners in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.
“It means a lot to me. Being able to keep playing hockey is really important to me,” says Danforth. “So it’s awesome.”
The six-foot-one, 180-pound defenceman says the three games he played this year made it difficult for scouts, especially coaches to get a grasp of his game. In his Kootenay International Junior Hockey League career, Danforth played 82 regular season games, including eight when he started his KIJHL career with the Kelowna Chiefs. He has another 21 games of playoff experience with the Dynamiters.
Joining the Mariners is a good fit for Danforth because he loves being in B.C., and has heard great things about Nanaimo. He’s also excited to enter their new Kinesiology program, in which he plans to earn a bachelor’s degree to open a door of opportunities. Plus, he’s excited to continue playing competitive hockey in a strong Mariners program. In 2019-20, the Mariners finished third in the league with 13 wins in 24 games. The previous season they were also third with 12 wins in 24 games. That season the Mariners advanced to the league championship, where they lost to Trinity Western University in two games.
With an already solid defensive game, the former Maple Leaf Athletic Club U18AAA product improved a lot on his offensive skills, making better decisions with the puck, showing more calmness, especially along the blueline. He added a deceptive side, which he says “is going to be really important.”
Dynamiters coach-GM Derek Stuart says since joining their program in 2018-19, Danforth has improved greatly as a defenceman. His fitness level this season was elite and he developed into a top-four defenceman.
“VIU is getting a very reliable defensive defenceman that can skate well,” says Stuart. “Noah is excellent on the penalty-killing as well as defending and making the right decision with the puck.
“If Noah trains properly this off-season, then works hard once arriving at VIU, he should earn an opportunity to be a regular in the Mariners lineup,” continued Stuart.
Danforth says the ice time he received in Kimberley helped him a lot, and it allowed him to improve his skills, and “leapfrog some people.”
“It is hard work, the coaching is great,” he says. “They take care of you well. The training centre is good. The rink is good. We practice four times a week. That helped a lot. They have experienced coaches that know what they are talking about. It really helped me improve.”
Danforth added that the KIJHL is the most competitive Junior B league in Canada.
“You are playing some really talented players. Some really hard working players,” he says. “Every night is a different game pretty much. A lot of the teams are built differently. The rinks are a different size so you always have to adjust to that. It helped me adapt better in situations.”
While Danforth moves on to the BCIHL, two of his teammates are getting an opportunity with the Cranbrook Bucks in the B.C. Hockey League. The Dynamiters announced on their social media on March 22 that defenceman Nick Dobson has signed with the Bucks for the rest of the season, and goalie Eric Scherger joins the Bucks as an affiliate player.