Mason Ouchi of the Summerland Steam didn’t realize he had received the Canucks Alumni Doug Lidster Scholarship for the Okanagan region until his mom told him.
“I was pretty happy,” he said.
Lidster, a Kamloops, B.C. native, played 897 NHL regular season games, collecting 343 points while spending most of his career with the Vancouver Canucks. He won a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers.
Ouchi and the other four Canucks Alumni recipients were announced during the B.C. Hockey annual general meeting in Penticton. The Canucks Alumni Association is dedicated to assisting worthy student-athletes who excel in hockey by awarding hockey scholarships to those who hope to attend an accredited university or college. Awards are determined by the applicant’s level of community service, volunteerism, good citizenship and scholastic standing.
The money from that scholarship will help Ouchi as he attends UBC-O to pursue a Bachelor of Science in BioChemistry.
Ouchi, 17, was named the KIJHL Scholastic Player of the Year. A George Elliot Secondary graduate, Ouchi maintained a 92 per cent average across a challenging Grade 12 academic workload and was a straight-A student in Grade 11 with a 94 per cent average over seven courses.
“Mason is an excellent student and puts full effort into his schoolwork,” said Steam Head Coach and GM Mark MacMillan. “He is dedicated and meticulous in his approach to both school and hockey.”
This past season was Ouchi’s lone year playing in the KIJHL as he plans to focus on his education. Ouchi, who grew up in Nelson, B.C., was happy with his play and earned a lot of minutes under MacMillan. He viewed himself as an all-around defenceman who was able to adjust his playing style depending on his defensive partner.
“Towards the end of the season I started playing more aggressively and in the offensive zone,” said Ouchi, who had three assists in 39 games, and saw action in eight Teck Cup playoff games.
The 6-0, 165-pound defenceman improved his passing and communication. Ouchi said his experience playing in the KIJHL was great and coming into the league was “scary because of the bigger players”, but he fit in with the Steam.
“I wasn’t getting smacked around as much as I thought I would,” he said. “I was actually keeping up with the play. It’s a much higher level of hockey than I was used to. Once I got in there, I started working with it, and getting used to it, it was nice.”
Ouchi believes aspects of his hockey-playing experience will help with his education. As he tries to become a doctor, “doing labs in university, you have to work together with other people.”
“That is the biggest thing hockey has ever taught me, was being a teammate and helping each other out,” said Ouchi, who has chosen the medical field because of his interest in sciences and was mentored educationally by Steam captain Cole Waldbillig.