After an MVP season with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, goaltender Luke Pearson is getting ready for the next stage of his hockey career with Yale University.
Pearson collected some impressive hardware at the end of the shortened 2020-21 B.C. Hockey League (BCHL) season. He won the MVP award for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, and he also received the award for the Top Goalie in the league’s Island Pod.
“Luke had a great season for us,” said Bulldogs head coach and general manager Joe Martin. “He was very steady for us and gave us a chance to win most nights. He’s ready for the next step in his career and we look forward to seeing him compete in the NCAA.”
Pearson said he was “really happy” with how the season ended.
“[The Top Goalie award] was a pretty cool award to be given, especially with the tough competition in our pod,” he said. “I had a lot of help from my teammates, blocking shots and clearing rebounds. Really, it felt like a team award.”
The Bulldogs finished the pod season with a second place finish, just two points behind the Victoria Grizzlies and nine points ahead of the third-place Nanaimo Clippers.
The season was a strange one, as COVID-19 case counts delayed the start of the season again and again.
“We had a lot of time off, so I had time to work on my game,” said Pearson. “For us, the strangest part was waiting, never knowing what’s going to happen.”
The 19-year-old from Whitby, Ontario will now head to Yale University for NCAA Div. 1 hockey next season. When it comes to academics, Pearson said he is still trying to decide on a major.
“Playing at an Ivy League school was a dream of mine,” said Pearson. “And Yale was definitely my top choice. It was something I worked toward. When I got the call, I was blown away—that was an incredible day for me. I’m looking forward to getting started there.”
Pearson played a total of two seasons with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. He finished his BCHL career with a shootout win against the Nanaimo Clippers, stopping all three shots he faced in the shootout.
“For me, the biggest change is being able to read the speed better,” said Pearson. “As you get older and more experienced, the game starts to slow down a little. I got better at controlling my rebounds, playing the puck.”
During the pod season, Pearson started 17 of his team’s 20 games, and ranked second in the BCHL with 978 minutes played. His 0.922 save percentage tied him with Victoria’s Carter Woodside for top in the Island Pod, and he led the pod with two shutouts.
During the pre-season, Pearson shared the net with his goaltending partner Jackson Glassford. But Glassford was dealing with a nagging lower body injury, and made the decision to step away from the ice during the pod season to recover.
Pearson said he focused on taking care of his body off ice in order to handle the heavy workload.
“I knew going in that I was going to be seeing a lot of games,” he said. “I did a lot of off-ice things to help out with that. Just stretching, making sure my body felt good going into the game.”
For Pearson, the best part about playing in the Alberni Valley was the fans.
“When [the arena] was packed, it was an amazing atmosphere,” he said. “It was hard this year not being able to see everyone.”
One of his best memories from playing with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs was a 4-0 shutout against the Pentiction Vees in October 2019. Pearson made 32 saves in front of a crowd of more than 1,300.
“The crowd was just rocking that night,” Pearson recalled. “I’ll never forget playing in Port Alberni. It’s something I’ll definitely miss.”