BCHL: Bulldogs’ Hawthorne commits to NCAA Wildcats

20-year-old goaltender earns scholarship to play Div. 1 hockey next year

Alberni Valley Bulldogs goaltender John Hawthorne, 20, has committed to attend Northern Michigan University and suit up for the NCAA Division I Wildcats for the 2019-20 season.

Hawthorne joined the BC Hockey League Bulldogs prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign following an impressive rookie season with the VIJHL’s Nanaimo Buccaneers and made an immediate impact both on and off the ice. He grabbed the reins as the Bulldogs’ starting goaltender early in the year and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player following the season.

This season, Hawthorne has continued his strong play with a 3.22 goals-against average and .910 save percentage, which ranks sixth among BCHL netminders, in 34 appearances. His 1141 saves this season rank first in the league while his 1917 minutes in goal rank third.

“On behalf of the entire Bulldogs organization, I’d like to congratulate John on earning a scholarship to play NCAA hockey,” says head coach Matt Hughes. “John is one of the most committed, hardest working young men you’ll find at this level and he’s put in a tremendous amount of work to earn this opportunity. He has been one of the best goaltenders in our league over the past two seasons and he’s been a great representative of the Bulldogs in our community.

“We expect John to transition quickly to college hockey and have a great NCAA career.”

Before coming to the Alberni Valley, Hawthorne spent a season with the Buccaneers and three campaigns with the B.C. Major Midget League’s North Island Silvertips.

“I think Northern Michigan is a great fit both on the ice and academically, and I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to continue the program’s tradition of strong goaltending,” says Hawthorne. “The rapport their coaching staff developed with me made me very comfortable with the program and after discussions with the Bulldogs’ coaches, my family and our educational adviser, Tom McEvay, it became clear that NMU was the right spot for me.

“My time with the Bulldogs has been instrumental in getting me to this point. The entire hockey operations staff has gone above and beyond for myself and the rest of our team, and I can’t say enough good things about Tom McEvay, who is a true unsung hero of the organization. I’d like to thank the Bulldogs and the Nanaimo Buccaneers organizations, as well as coaches James Gaertner, Dan Lemmon and Jeff Carey, and of course my family for all their support. I’m also excited for the remainder of the season and my goal is to help bring as much exciting playoff hockey as possible to the Dog Pound.”

Hawthorne is the fifth Bulldogs player on this season’s roster to earn an NCAA scholarship. He joins forwards Keaton Mastrodonato (Canisius College – 2019/20), Ryan Miotto (Canisius College – 2019/20) and Austin Spiridakis (Quinnipiac University – 2020/21), and defenceman Marcus Walter (Bentley University – 2019/20).

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