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BC Hockey's Olympic Corner: Jordan Weal and Ben Street, Men's Team

Photo credits: Francois Lacasse, Laval Rocket / Mark Newman, Grand Rapids Griffins

 

By MARIO ANNICCHIARICO

British Columbia products Jordan Weal and Ben Street took two completely different routes to their professional hockey careers, yet have ended up on the same international journey, representing Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games.

Weal was born in Saskatchewan but moved to the Vancouver area at a very young age, enjoying a strong minor hockey career before taking his talents to the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.

He was then drafted 70th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2010, before bouncing around the American Hockey League and settling in Russia with AK Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Street played his minor hockey with his native Coquitlam Minor Hockey Association before advancing to the Burnaby Winter Club. He then joined the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League prior to moving on to a scholarship in the NCAA with the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

Undrafted, he signed on as a free agent within the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and, like Weal, toiled in the AHL for years before landing in Germany with EHC Munchen in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Street was part of the Badgers’ 2005-06 NCAA championship team, was named the 2011 ECHL Rookie of the Year and won the Calder Cup championship in the AHL in 2017 with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Both did represent B.C. in the prestigious Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament - Street in 2000 and 2001 and Weal in 2004 and 2005.

“I really consider hockey to be the lifeblood of the country. From road hockey, or ice hockey, we found a way to play the sport we loved,” Weal recently told the Assiniboia Times and even recalled time spent with his father playing the game. “Sometimes it was going out to the ice at 6 in the morning. Other times he would be standing in the net in our driveway, with a baseball glove, ready to catch any pucks that I was shooting.”

Weal played minor hockey with the North Shore Winter Club and the Vancouver North West Giants (now the North West Hawks).

“It was such a great thing, to have the coaching and ice availability that we did when I was playing at that age,” he told the Times. “I still go back to North Vancouver now and again and get the chance to skate on the same ice I did when I was learning the game.”

Both he and Street have enjoyed very respectable professional careers and caught the eyes of the Canadian Olympic team staff, led by general manager Shane Doan, an Albertan who played his major junior in Kamloops with the successful Blazers’ organization.

Like Street, who claimed a Calder Cup championship with the Grand Rapid Griffins in 2017, Weal is also a Calder Cup champion from 2015 with Manchester Monarchs. Weal was named the Jack Butterfield trophy winner as the most valuable player of the playoffs. He was also an AHL second-team all-star that season and in Regina was named a first-team WHL Eastern Conference all-star.

In the NHL, Weal collected 32 goals and 37 assists in 218 games within the Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Arizona and Montreal organizations. His AHL statistics were much more pronounced with 80 goals and 244 points in 298 regular-season games and 10 goals and 27 points in 27 playoff games.

Street was the Wisconsin Badgers’ captain in his junior and senior years and received numerous scholastic awards throughout his five college campaigns. He signed as an NHL free agent with Pittsburgh in 2010 and tallied 24 goals and 51 points in just 38 games in his pro debut with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.

That same season he was promoted to the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and collected 23 points in 36 games. That year, despite playing just the 38 games, he was named the ECHL Rookie of the Year.

He bounced around the AHL and played 59 games in the NHL with Calgary, Colorado, Detroit, Anaheim and New Jersey, collecting just three goals and six assists. In 523 AHL games, Street posted 173 goals and 439 points in regular season play and 15 goals and 45 points in 64 playoff outings.

ICE CHIPS: Aside from Doan, who played his major junior in Kamloops and won the Memorial Cup in 1994 and 1995, Team Canada’s executive at the Olympics also includes assistant general manager and senior vice-president of hockey operations Scott Salmond of Creston, B.C.; while Tyler Dietrich of West Vancouver and another former Kamloops Blazer, Nolan Baumgartner, are assistant coaches. Baumgartner also played for, and assistant coached in Vancouver with the NHL’s Canucks. Of course, the chief executive officer of Hockey Canada is Tom Renney of Cranbrook, B.C... Goaltender Justin Pogge of Penticton and Kent Johnson of Port Moody, B.C., are reserve players for the Olympic team, with Johnson being activated to the main roster prior to Team Canada’s first game in Beijing.

Mario Annicchiarico is a freelance writer based in Victoria who has previously covered the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers, as well as the Western Hockey League.