On the heels of Little’s 20-year-old Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season being cancelled, and the announcement of the BCHL resuming play, he got the call from Coquitlam while in talks with multiple NCAA and ACHA schools.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity and excited to get going with the Coquitlam Express,” Little, 21, said enthusiastically for ThunderCats.com. “I couldn’t have got this chance without my time spent and support I received from the Creston Valley Thunder Cats organization.”
The Nanaimo, B.C. native started his quarantine immediately and will join his teammates in Coquitlam immediately following.
In Little, the Express gets a goaltender that has been on the ice almost continuously since the summer. He stayed and worked on his skills during the Christmas season and once the season was cancelled, Little took full advantage of the optional ice made available until the end of February. Little is known for “being a king amongst kings” regarding his work ethic.
“’Jado’ doesn’t have a bad practice. I put him right up there with the goaltenders that I have coached that made the NHL,” says Thunder Cats coach-GM Bill Rotheisler. “A 20-year-old vet, and if you came and watched at any given time, you would think he was a rookie fighting for a spot. We were spoiled and treated to a daily showing of great saves at practice, and of course games.”
The way he plays caught the Express’ eye.
“It is the same things that have caught the eye of NCAA schools. When you look at the analytics, which are independently verified from the same firms NHL teams use, it breaks down just how successful he was,” says Rotheisler. “He was well above average in all quality shot categories and was perfect on clear shots for the year.
Little’s signing comes at the end of his junior career, which also included stints in the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and now the BCHL.
“I am really excited to have Jaden joining our organization,” said Express general manager Tali Campbell. “I know he has worked very hard for this moment, and now the opportunity is his to showcase what he’s got.”
The Thunder Cats have other players affiliating in the BCHL, as the Merritt Centennials have added Vin Jackson, Campbell Mclean, Tyler Badger and Blake Hiltermann to their roster.
“We are super excited for these players. There is no guarantee these boys will play, but it is a testament to how hard each of them worked throughout the course of this so-called ‘lost’ season,” says Thunder Cats assistant GM and associate coach Mark Readman. “Putting their noses down and working to get better and reach the next level was their mindset day in, day out. We are beyond thrilled for them to be rewarded for all of their hard work.”
Games from both the Coquitlam Express and Merritt Centennials will be available to watch online on HockeyTV.