Mitchell Gove praised his teammates for being named the Summerland Steam Rookie of the Year.
The well-spoken 17-year-old described this season as a long one, starting with adversity, however, he appreciates his teammates. They accepted him into the locker room and took him under their wing. They showed him how things were done and he said it has been awesome.
The Summerland Minor Hockey product has tasted higher levels of hockey. Last season he played seven games as an affiliate with the B.C. Hockey League’s West Kelowna Warriors. That experience helped his hockey, learning from the players and coaches.
“Coming back to Summerland, I learned more about myself and about personalities and all that, then I’ve learned in the last three years of my hockey,” he said. “This team has really helped me a ton. Personally and it’s been an awesome year for me. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
He started this season at the WHL camp of the Saskatoon Blades. Gove was playing well in and things were going well in the prairies. Then he was hit by a couple of tough days, plus being far from home, he decided to return. He wasn’t feeling good about hockey at the time. With his brother Linden in his final junior season, he decided to join the hometown Steam.
“That is why I really have to thank the players on this team, coaches, for what was going on in my life at the time, they helped a ton,” he said. “It was awesome to be a part of this group. I’m super appreciative off all the stuff they have done for me.”
Gove enjoyed the experience with the Blades, seeing what that level is like, but said it is great being with the Steam.
In 36 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) games, Gove netted 19 goals and finished with 40 points. That ranked him 53rd among the league leaders. In the Steam’s opening round series against the Princeton Posse, he has three goals. He plays with speed, tenacity and good finish. He has formed a threatening line with Cody Swan and Lane French.
His growth as a player has been more on the mental side. He praises coach John DePourcq, saying “he’s the kind of coach to makes you want to come play for him. He’s taught me so much. Just about being a good person, and that translates onto the ice.”
DePourcq also pushes the players to keep working hard, give their best effort.
“That’s something that I will always use in my life,” said Gove, an alum of the Okanagan Hockey Academy and B.C. Major Midget League’s Okanagan Rockets. “Him leading the way, showing how it is done has really helped me translate onto the ice.”
Gove also discovered the KIJHL is better than he expected, adding there were some challenges, but it has been good.
As for being named the Steam’s best rookie, he calls it a “big honour.”
“All the players that have come through this organization, and all the players out of here this year, it’s a very young team so to get this award out of all those guys is a big honour,” he said. “I have got to thank the coaches and everyone else, especially my teammates. My linemates who I played with helped a lot.”