Winfield Minor Hockey product Brent Lashuk is enjoying his rookie year of junior A hockey

Winfield Minor Hockey product Brent Lashuk is enjoying his rookie year of junior A hockey

Winfield product Lashuk finding his way with West Kelowna Warriors

Rookie power forward back from injury and ready for the stretch drive

A big power forward, Winfield Minor Hockey product Brent Lashuk is continuing to climb up the ladder of the hockey ranks and is enjoying a pretty good rookie season with the West Kelowna Warriors, his first season in the B.C. Hockey League.

Lashuk, 18, returned to the Warriors lineup last weekend after suffering a torn abdominal muscle just before Christmas. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound forward has amassed 16 points in 30 games during his rookie campaign, decent numbers for a first year player who is battling for ice time on a talented Warriors roster.

“He’s been good for us as a first year player,” said Warriors’ coach/GM Rylan Ferster. “He has a good shot, he plays a give and go game and he goes up and down his wing. He is hard to handle down low and was playing really well before he was injured.”

Lashuk suffered the injury in the Warriors final game before the Christmas break and missed 10 games before coming back last weekend against Penticton. Aside from the injury, the former member of the Kelowna Chiefs says his first year in junior A has been pretty good.

“Things are going really well, it’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “We have a great group of guys, one of the best teams I have been on. Everybody gets along and we are all close.”

Lashuk began playing organized hockey at the age of five in Winfield Minor Hockey but thanks to the outdoor rink at his parents place, he had plenty of opportunities to skate over the years. Hockey became like second nature, to the gradutae of George Elliot school.

“We were a really big hockey family,” he said. “My Dad played when he was a kid. He loved the game and we always had hockey rinks a our house. Having that available to you it becomes part of your life and something that really nothing can replace.”

After playing Winfield minor until his first year of bantam, Lashuk joined the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy for a season before making the Okanagan Rockets major midget team as a 15-year-old. A shoulder injury and surgery put Lashuk on the sidelines for his second year of midget before he tried out for and made the Kelowna Chiefs junior B team last season and then the Warriors this year.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to make it to junior hockey and to accomplish that out of Winfield is pretty good,” he said. “There are only a handful of guys to make junior from Winfield.”

One of those is a former teammate Harlan Orr, currently playing for Salmon Arm in the BCHL and another is Lashuk’s older brother Derek Lashuk, a defenceman for Beaver Valley in the KIJHL. For Brent Lashuk this season has been about battling through injury and attempting to get established at a higher level of junior that he played last year.

And he’s handling it well.

“It’s always tough to be a rookie in the league but I’m getting used to it and I’m really enjoying playing at this level,” he said, adding that the Warriors could be a force in the playoffs if everyone gets healthy. “Once we get everybody back from injury I think we can make a splash in the playoffs. Once we are healthy and playing hard, we will be tough to beat.”

The Warriors entered last weekend sitting in third place in the BCHL Interior Division. The team briefly moved into second in the standings but slid back to third with its loss last weekend. Still the club has put some space between itself and Salmon Arm, with the Silverbacks sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot, five points back of West Kelowna. The Warriors are on the road this weekend, traveling to Salmon Arm Friday and to Vernon on Saturday.