A second Cariboo Cougar will be suiting up in the BC Hockey League (BCHL) next year.
Alex Ochitwa has decided to keep the red, white and black colour-scheme but will now wear a rink on his chest with the Merritt Centennials at the start of 2020-21 season.
The Prince George product is coming off a career-high 54 points in 30 regular-season games with the Major Midget Cats, including a team-high 31 assists and 23 goals.
Though his five-foot-six stature is small compared to current junior ‘A’ players, Ochitwa feels he’s ready for the transition and going to a team that’s on the rebuild.
“I’m most excited about the atmosphere being built in Merritt,” said the 17-year-old in a Centennials’ release.
“The culture the team is creating looks like it could build towards something very special. Being a part of a team-first program is very promising and I’m excited to contribute to that. Also, very excited to join such a long standing organization.”
Merritt failed to make the playoffs this season after going 14-40-1-3, a significant drop compared to their second-place Interior Division finish a year earlier with a regular-season record of 36-15-4-3.
Ochitwa says he’s hoping his offensive abilities can translate into the Cents’ team mentality and move them in the right direction.
“Hard work is always a key value for the Cents and that is something I’m committed to bring,” he said.
“I think the creative aspect of my game is something I can contribute to the team and hope to help bring some offence.”
The forward helped the Cariboo Cougars get to its second BC Major Midget League championship in three years by contributing 35 points in 40 games during the 2018-19 campaign.
The playoffs this year were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Cats sat in fifth place going down to Fraser Valley in the opening round.
Ochitwa’s signing comes two months after his captain John Herrington agreed to play for the Prince George Spruce Kings next season.
He’ll also be the sixth Cariboo Cougar graduating to a new league for 2020-21.