A Coquitlam hockey product is relishing the opportunity to train with one of the NHL's most iconic clubs.
Christian Fitzgerald was invited this month to Toronto Maple Leafs' rookie development camp and has been on the ice with 19 other young forwards hoping to impress coaches and scouts.
The 19-year-old finished his second BCHL junior 'A' year as a member of the Surrey Eagles in its 2020-21 season, finishing with 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points in 19 games.
He was the top scorer in the Coquitlam pod, leading the Eagles to a 17-2-1 record in the shortened campaign.
Based on these merritts, the Maples Leafs decided to extend an invitation to Fitzgerald to match his talents with other rookies or first-year NHL prospects.
The end of camp is nearing as the professional club is currently in Traverse City, Mich. for the prestigious NHL Prospects Tournament, which pins Toronto against other teams like Detroit, Dallas, Columbus and St. Louis.
Fitzgerald has yet to suit up in either of the Leafs' first two of four matches; the latter puck drops are set for tomorrow (Sept. 19) and Monday (Sept. 20)
Prior to the beginning of the season, Fitzgerald committed to Minnesota State University of NCAA Division 1 play.
He was set to start his collegiate career for the 2021-22 season, but has since been pushed to 2022-23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is currently listed on the roster for USHL's Tri-City Storm.
Additonally, Coquitlam Express alumni Henry Rybinski has been invited to train with the Edmonton Oilers.
Carson Latimer, who became the first Port Moody Panthers alumni to be drafted to the NHL, has been with the Ottawa Senators' development camp after the club selected him this past summer.
"It’s what you work for your whole life and to have that finally come true was amazing and there’s no better place to go than somewhere in Canada and to a great place like Ottawa where there’s such a historic background. I’ve loved everything about it so far,” he said in an interview with Sens team media on Sept. 14.
"It means a lot when they really want you, to trade up to get you … now I want to do my best to show them that I was worth it."
PANTHERS SEASON UPDATE
After pouncing n a 4-1 victory to open the 2021-22 campaign, the Port Moody Panthers find themselves trying to get back to that winning feeling.
The junior 'B' franchise is now 1-2 after dropping their last two matches to Delta and Richmond on Sept. 11 and 16 respectively.
The young Panthers roster have been getting on the board with exactly four goals in each game so far.
Captain Jayson Beauregard has averaged a goal per game thus far and leads Port Moody with five points (3G, 2A) through the first three tilts.
The Panthers' next contest is on home ice in Port Moody Arena tonight (Sept. 18), 7:45 p.m. against the Abbotsford Pilots.