Castlegar Rebel Colton Aikens is returning home to get a headstart on his college hockey career.
The Briercrest, Sask., product will suit up for Briercrest College men’s team as a 19-year-old, wrapping up his junior hockey career after one season – three games, collecting three assists as a defenceman.
We are very excited about the addition of Colton Aikens to the program for the 2021-22 season. A former @prairie_hockey and @RebelsCastlegar grad, Colton adds to the program dependable leadership, humility, and a servant heart. Welcome to the program Colton! pic.twitter.com/vKA3ZTHX8i
— Briercrest Hockey (@BCrestHockey) June 23, 2021
Aikens, who plays defence and forward, was eager to be closer to home and start his studies to earn an agricultural degree. He also feels he’s ready to play in the highly skilled Alberta Colleges Hockey Association. It was a difficult decision for Aikens to forgo his final two seasons of junior hockey, but he’s confident about the success he can enjoy since he has practiced with Briercrest several times while he played for the Prairie Hockey Academy and he fit in. Aikens is excited to get close with the team and be an impact player for Briercrest.
With the Rebels, Aikens saw growth in his defensive game as he mostly played as a defenceman. However, with Briercrest, he will return to the forward position.
“I also feel I improved on the physical part of my game in the short-lived season as there were tougher players and more contact as I was used to,” says Aikens.
“Colton came to the Rebels as a highly skilled player,” says Rebels coach-GM Carter Duffin. “He excels with his vision and hockey IQ. He made the most of the COVID-shortened season, as we focused on individual skill development.”
Aikens came to the Rebels from the Canadian Sport School Hockey League, where he put up 20 goals and 38 points in 24 games as a forward. Duffin added that Aikens used his development time to become even more efficient with his skills, both with and without the puck.
“Because of Colton’s understanding of the game, he will be able to make the step to the college level and be successful,” says Duffin. “He is going to be able to create offensive opportunities for his team because of his skillset, IQ and exceptional work ethic.”
Aikens sees himself as an offensive forward that can score, but is also reliable defensively.
His time in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League was a great experience as he got close to his teammates over four months.
“We went through tough times with the season getting cut short and being delayed constantly, but we stuck with it and even though we weren’t able to play many games, I was able to bond with the Rebels and improve as an individual player,” says Aikens. “My billets were also amazing. They provided me a home and treated me as their own, giving me an opportunity to perform at my best.