Growing up in West Kelowna, he often dreamed of playing with the hometown Warriors.
Now, in his fourth and final season with the BCHL club, Max French’s memorable junior A career is on the verge of coming to a close.
This week, the West Kelowna captain and inspirational leader hopes his last hurrah in Warriors’ colours will be marked by a series comeback against the defending national champion Penticton Vees.
Win or lose, French plans to thoroughly enjoy his last days as a Warrior.
“I’ve spent a good chunk of my life in this uniform, so really the whole season has been a reflection for me,” said French who led the team in playoff scoring through seven games with six goals and nine points. “It’s been a really great year, we’ve had a ton of success as a team and hopefully we can keep it going.”
A knee injury deprived the Warriors of French’s services for two months this season, but the 5-foot-10, 180-pound forward still managed to put up 21 goals and 53 points in 39 games.
And it’s not just on the ice where French has had a significant impact.
The Warriors’ captain since January 2012, French has had more than a passing effect on the B.C. Hockey League club and its fans.
“Max is the face of the franchise,” said Warriors’ coach and GM Rylan Ferster. “He’s a pretty loved guy in West Kelowna and he’s handled it very well. He’s been front and centre in the community, signs autographs for the kids and is just a really good spokesman for the team and for junior hockey.”
As for French’s influence in both the dressing room and on the ice, Ferster says his value can’t be overestimated.
“He’s been great, he’s the guy who makes our team go,” Ferster said. “Max is the heart and soul of our team, he’s our captain and he leads by example.”
Next season, French will head to Boston to pursue a scholarship opportunity at Bentley University, an NCAA Div. 1 school.
As exciting as the prospects of the next chapter of his hockey life are, French remains focused on the task at hand—the BCHL playoffs.
On the subject of his career with the Warriors, French insists it’s a phase of his life he’ll never forget.
“As soon as the Warriors came (2006) I was in the stands cheering at their games,” said French, a Mt. Boucherie grad. “When I first made the team, it was amazing to be playing for them, it’s a great organization. We’ve had great fan support, great support from the community and it’s been an honour to be able to give back.”
French is one of nine players who will graduate from the Warriors at the end of the 2012-13 season.
French and the Warriors will host Penticton in Game 3 of the BCHL Interior Conference final on Monday night at Royal LePage Place. Game time is 7 p.m.