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Alumni Spotlight: Jake Virtanen, Fraser Valley Thunderbirds

Friday, November 27, 2015
 
Name:
Jake Virtanen
Hometown:
Abbotsford, BC
MML Team:
Fraser Valley Bruins, 2011-2012
WHL Team:
Calgary Hitmen, 2012-2015
Current Team:
Vancouver Canucks, 2015-Present
 
 
Jake Virtanen played one (1) season for the Fraser Valley Bruins (now the Fraser Valley  Thunderbirds) after being selected first overall in the 2011 Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft by the Calgary Hitmen.
 
Said Fraser Valley Thunderbirds Head Coach Bill Grieve, “While I did not personally coach Jake in his MML season (Troy Campbell was the Bruins’ coach in 2011-2012), Jake was an extrememly talented player that had a great shot and a strong ability to compete and score.”
 
Virtanen averaged nearly two (2) points per game for his Abbotsford Hawks Bantam A1 squad, racking up 117 points (68 goals, 49 assists) in 59 games. In his only MML season, Virtanen tallied 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games before moving on to the Hitmen.
 
In his first full season with the Hitmen, Virtanen scored 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 62 games. He then had a breakout sophomore year, notching 71 points (45 goals, 26 assists) in 71 games during the 2013-2014 season. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau ranked Virtanen as the sixth best North American skater heading into the 2014 NHL Draft.
 
The Vancouver Canucks made Virtanen the pride of Abbotsford when they selected him sixth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. The first BC-born player selected by the Canucks in the first round since Cam Neely (1983), Virtanen spent one (1) more season with the Hitmen, continuing his point-per-game pace in 2014-2015 with 52 points (21 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games. After the Hitmen’s season ended, he joined the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Utica Comets for the playoffs, helping the team to a Calder Cup (AHL Championship) appearance.
 
While with the Hitmen, Virtanen also got the attention of Hockey Canada scouts, earning a spot on the National U18 Team in 2013-2014, where he won bronze at the 2014 IIHF World U18 Championship. He then made the roster for Canada’s U20 Team, helping win gold on home ice in Montreal at the 2015 World Junior Championship.
 
Virtanen made his NHL debut on October 13, 2015 against the Los Angeles Kings. Virtanen officially made the Canucks on November 1, 2015, after the team decided not to send him back to the WHL following his nine (9) game tryout period. In 18 games with the Canucks, Virtanen has one (1) goal and three (3) assists so far this season.
 
Said Grieve, “He’s a great reperesentative of this area, as a kid who came up through the minor hockey system. It’s great to see him succeeding at such a high level.”
 
The BC Hockey Major Midget League was established in 2004 to provide elite level 15, 16 and 17 year olds an opportunity to play within their own age group at a high level and be developed for the next level of hockey. These teams have an opportunity each year to compete for the National Midget Championship.
 
For more information about the BC Hockey Major Midget League, please visit the League website at www.bcmml.net, follow along on social media at twitter.com/bchockey_mml, or email us at midgethockey@bchockey.net.


 
 

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