Based on his first half season in the B.C. Hockey League, Jake Harrison’s birth certificate doesn’t seem to match up with his contributions to the West Kelowna Warriors.
At just 16, the West Kelowna product has been a filling role more befitting a seasoned veteran.
“He’s a special player,” Warriors head coach and GM Ferster said of Harrison. “He’s a real competitive guy, he skates he well, he’s good with the puck, and he plays in all situations for us…there’s not a lot he doesn’t do well.
“When you look at young defencemen,” Ferster added, “Jake’s well ahead of the curve for a 16-year-old.”
Growing up in West Kelowna, Harrison has long been a fan of the Warriors, first attending games in 2006 when the team played its first season out of Memorial Arena.
After coming through Westside’s minor system, Harrison played two years with the Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna, where his play caught the attention of both WHL and BCHL scouts.
The Spokane Chiefs made Harrison their fourth round choice in the 2014 WHL bantam draft.
Given the choice to either start his major junior career south of the border this fall, or remain at home to play junior A, Harrison opted to join the Warriors.
“I thought for now, it was the best fit for me,” said Harrison, who isn’t ruling out a possible future in the WHL.
“It was a better opportunity for me to get playing time here, and being able to live at home is nice, too. My family is happy that I’m here. I can just concentrate on hockey and school. The Warriors are a great team to be with…I actually couldn’t ask for anything better.”
In addition to getting constructive advice from the Warriors’ coaching staff, Harrison has had a mentor in his older brother, Luke.
A 20-year-old forward with the Prince George Cougars, the elder Harrison is currently in his fifth and final WHL season.
“We talk often,” Jake said of his relationship with Luke. “He’s helped me out ever since I’ve been on skates. It’s good to have someone close to you who has that experience.”
Since the season’s opening face off, Harrison has been a key and reliable member of Ferster’s blue line corps, scoring four goals and adding 12 assists in 32 games.
But numbers and stats aside, Ferster said what stands out most in Harrison is his will to succeed.
“What I like most about him is his competitive edge, he doesn’t like it when he makes mistakes and he’s hard on himself when they do happen,” said Ferster. “Even in practise, he’s competitive and gets mad when something doesn’t go right. You know he’s always going to compete and that might be his biggest attribute.”
Harrison and the Warriors (19-13-0-2) will play a key home-and-home set this weekend with Interior Division leading Penticton Vees (30-3-1-0).
The teams face off Friday, 7 p.m. at Royal LePage Place, before meeting for the rematch Saturday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.