Working at a mill in Lavington. Taking classes toward a Bachelor of Business Administration. Playing in a hockey beer league.
Noah Turanski was a couple of years removed from competitive hockey when he received call that a team in Kelowna was being admitted into the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League and would he like to play on the team?
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound towering defenceman eagerly accepted.
“I played in the B.C. Hockey League (Coquitlam Express) for three years, then I got traded to the Saskatchewan Junior League (Kindersley Klippers),” said Turanski, now 23, while running on the treadmill at his parents’ home to keep in shape over the holiday season.
“In my second year in Kindersley, they traded me to a Northern Ontario team. I didn’t report. I wanted to play in the BCHL Interior but as a 20-year-old, there wasn’t a lot of openings.
“I’m happy. It’s awesome to be out on the ice again. You think your career is done and then you get a chance to play competitively again.”
Established in 2021, the Okanagan Lakers are an expansion team for the 2021/22 season. They play against the Simon Fraser Clan, Vancouver Island University Mariners (Nanaimo) and University of Victoria Vikes. In league play, the Lakers were 1-3 at the Christmas break.
The Lakers are full-time student-athletes registered in Okanagan-based post secondary institutions. Turanski is in his third year in the BBA program working toward a major in finance.
Through the four regular-season games and some exhibition contests, Turanski has one goal. It came on a powerplay.
“I was in front of the net and got my stick on a shot. It was a nice deflection,” said Turanski.
Asked about the league’s calibre, Turanski called it “pretty fast.”
“It’s been a pleasant surprise,” he said. “There are a lot of former Junior B players and the league is a bit different than what I’ve been used to.”
Former North Okanagan Knights MVP goalie Daniel Paul from the KIJHL is one of three goalies with the Lakers.
When he earns his degree, Turanski will explore some hockey options.
“I’ll look at the pro leagues, maybe something in Europe,” he said.
More than 800 Canadian junior hockey graduates have continued their competitive career while earning post-secondary education in the BCIHL since 2006. The BCIHL promotes academic success, health and safety, and a highly competitive brand of hockey.
Editor’s note: This story was updated Thursday, Jan. 13, at 10:52 a.m. to recognize the Lakers have no affiliation with Okanagan College or UBC Okanagan.