After seeing Alexander Kerfoot light up the BC Major Midget League last season, there was no doubt he was going to propel into stardom in the BCHL.
Not that there are guarantees in hockey, but the talented forward was as close as they come to a sure bet after racking up 108 points, on 36 goals and 72 assists in just 38 games for the Vancouver NW Giants in 2010-11.
This year all the 5-foot-9, 155-pound pivot did was score an impressive 25 goals and 69 points in 51 games for the Coquitlam Express, en route to being named the Coastal Conference Rookie of the Year. And, just for good measure, he was also named Most Sportsmanlike Player, and was selected to both the BCHL’s All-Rookie Team, and was a Coastal Conference First Team All-Star.
His 69 points ranked him second overall on the Express, as well as 4th overall among first year players, and 16th overall in the entire league in scoring. Kerfoot also led the club in goals (four) in their short-lived six game playoff series against Powell River, and represented Canada West at the 2011 World Junior A Hockey Challenge, putting up two goals and three points in five games while helping them capture gold.
He is a hardworking and very unselfish player, that has tremendous vision and hockey sense, to go with great wheels, excellent puck skills, and is an all-round tremendous athlete. The gifted centre is very shifty and elusive, extremely creative, is a tireless worker, and often the most competitive player on the ice. He simply wants to be the best, and is determined to make a difference in any way possible.
I had the chance to catch up with the well-spoken Kerfoot, who is ranked among the top BCHLers for the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft, for a quick Q and A.
Who has been your biggest help and influence in developing your game?
Alex: A couple people, my dad has played hockey for a long time, and I lean on him pretty heavily. He knows me better than anyone, knows how I play, and is always willing to help me in anyway I need in order to give me every opportunity to succeed. My trainer Dusan Benicky has also helped me so much, I have been going to him for three or four years now, and since then my skating and overall strength have improved dramatically. Finally Paul Reinhart, a family friend and former coach has an impressive background in hockey and is always willing to lend me advice.
I’ve seen you numerous times, and have always been impressed with your vision and hockey IQ, what do you see being your best attributes on the ice?
Alex: I think my vision and hockey sense are my best attributes, but my skating has improved quite a bit in the last couple of years, and is now also one of my strengths. That being said, I definitely have to work on my shot and overall strength to succeed at the next level.
Is there an NHLer you model your game after?
Alex: I don’t model my game after anyone, but there are certain people who I watch and try to learn from. I like to watch Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and think that parts of my game resemble theirs.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the BCHL?
Alex: To be honest I didn’t have a ‘welcome moment’ but going into my first game this year was a huge shock because the pace of the game was so much faster than in midget, and I was always one step behind.
You’ve scored a bunch of goals over your young career in minor hockey, with the BC Major Midget Vancouver NW Giants, while representing Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge and this season with the Express, do you have one that stands out as your biggest?
Alex: Two really stand out. The double OT goal I scored for the NWG at the Macs tourney in the Semi-finals, and the OT goal at the WJAC Semi-finals against Sweden.
What is the highlight of your young career thus far?
Alex: Winning the WJAC this year. Anytime you get to represent your country it is such an honour, and capturing gold on home ice was amazing.
Coquitlam was eliminated by the Coastal Conference leading Power River Kings, but personally you played very well leading the Express in goals. How was your first taste of junior hockey playoff action?
Alex: It was a good experience for me and for our team. The majority of our team is returning next year and I hope we can learn from the series and use it to help us make a run next year. Personally the first couple games were a shock. The intensity is just so much higher in the playoffs and you can’t take a shift off. I thought we played well at home, but we were unfortunate with some injuries that we ran into. And, against a really good team like Powell River, you have to everyone in the lineup and playing well.
Your WHL rights are owned by the Seattle Thunderbirds, and you’ve yet to commit to an NCAA school, is there a chance we will see you in the dub or are you hoping to go the college route, and if so which schools interest you?
Alex: At this point I am pretty focused on going the NCAA route. I feel it gives me a little more time to develop as a player, and academics have always been pretty important to me. The three schools that I have visited are Boston College, Yale and Harvard, and they are all great schools, with great hockey programs that I am really interested in.
You made the transition from Major Midget to Jr. A look easy, and subsequently are one of the top ranked BCHLers for the upcoming NHL Draft. I know it’s an honor to be selected, but if you could pick the team that picks you, who would you choose?
Alex: Its pretty hard to pick one. I’m born and raised in Vancouver, so that would be pretty cool, but I would be so happy to be picked by anyone that it really doesn’t matter at this point.
In your opinion, who is the toughest player to beat 1-on-1 in the entire BCHL?
Alex: There are a lot of really good defensemen in this league, but Craig Dalrymple of the Powell River Kings really stands out. He is really big with a long reach, and very mobile, which makes it almost impossible to beat him 1-on-1.
Who’s the best player you’ve ever played with and against?
Alex: The best player I have ever played with is Griffin Reinhart, who plays for the Edmonton Oil Kings now. He is big, extremely smooth, and sees the ice as well as anyone I’ve played with. The best player I’ve played against is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime from the game?
Alex: I like to hang out with friends, and really anything to do with sports. I played a lot of sports when I was young, and I still love to play them for fun.
Any hidden talents?
Alex: Not really, but I was a pretty good soccer and tennis player when I was younger.