By Darryl G. Smart
Heading out west, not knowing what to expect, especially during a pandemic is a daunting task for anyone. Suffice to say, Ellis Rickwood not only made the transition, he flourished.
And now the 19-year-old from Brantford has a hockey scholarship to Clarkson University to go along with the basket full of awards he won, playing in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.
“I’m very excited to commit to Clarkson and be able to continue my hockey career at such a great program,” Rickwood said.
After a brilliant 2019-20 season with the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Hamilton Kilty B’s, Rickwood had to wait longer than expected, but took advantage of his opportunity, when he joined the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies.
Again, Rickwood didn’t disappoint.
Playing in a condensed pod format, Rickwood racked up 13 goals and 17 assists in 20 games. For his efforts, he was the Grizzlies’ leading scorer and earned the team’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. The former Brantford Minor Hockey Association product also was the BCHL’s Island Pod leading scorer, Leading Rookie, and Most Valuable Player.
“The shortened season really helped me showcase my game so that everyone could see what I can do,” Rickwood said.
It showcased him so much, not only was he trying to decide which school to commit to, his name popped up on the NHL Central Scouting list as the 144th top North American skater. Unfortunately Rickwood’s name wasn’t called during last week’s NHL Entry Draft. But that didn’t faze him.
“It was something I didn’t focus on too much,” Rickwood told the BCHL Podcast. ”The coach just helped me play hockey and not worry about it. Any time you see yourself on a list like that is pretty cool. It’s everyone’s dream to get drafted. If it doesn’t happen, so be it.”
Rickwood did admit that his success in the BCHL Pod certainly helped his stock rise, especially after scoring four goals in his first game.
“It couldn’t have gone any better,” Rickwood said. “I had a lot of success and fun doing it. If it weren’t for playing in the pod, we wouldn’t be talking about all of this.”
And he did all of this with the pressure of trying to decide which school to choose.
“It was a long process for me,” Rickwood said. “I wanted to visit schools but couldn’t throughout the season due to restrictions. When the season ended I did some visits and it ended up being Clarkson as the place I’d commit to.”
Rickwood said the academic side was something he liked, but the hockey situation with the Clarkson University Golden Knights was something he thinks he could take advantage of.
“I chose Clarkson because I think it’s the best fit for me hockey wise and the amount of players they have moved on to the next level was a no brainer for me,” Rickwood said. “The big thing is the right fit for me. A good relationship with the coaches and a team where I’m needed.”
Before he heads to Clarkson in 2022, he will return to the Grizzlies for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
“It’s the first time in junior I’m returning to a team, so I want to work on being a leader,” Rickwood said. “I think we are going to be a young group with a lot of talent. I always want to get better, so I’ve been working on that.”