Two years ago he packed his bags for Prince George to take the next step in his hockey career. Now, an even bigger leap awaits as Prince Rupert’s own Brett Fudger prepares to head south after signing with the Vernon Vipers of the B.C. Hockey League.
“I went to their spring camp tryouts and I put on a good performance there,” Fudger said of the path that will land him at his new destination in southern B.C. “After camp and exit interviews they talked with me and told me they want me to commit for the next season and play with them.”
The 17 year old was a point per game player with the Cariboo Cougars of the B.C. Major Midget League (BCMML) last season, scoring 40 points in 39 games. This was good for third overall on the team.
It also helped guide the Cougars to the BCMML championship with a series sweep of the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds in the final. Fudger scored a goal in the deciding 8-2 win.
|Brett Fudger stands outside of the hockey arena shortly before heading to Prince George to play for the Cariboo Cougars in 2017. (The Northern View)|
“I’m a 200 foot player,” Fudger said. “I can score and pass and get the assist,” he says to anyone who thinks his role as a power forward makes him a one dimensional player.
There is no denying though that Fudger leaves his mark — quite literally at times — on opposing players with his physical style of play.
“I’m a big body. I like to hit, I like to dig and grind in the corners. Just an all around kind of gritty forward,” Fudger said when describing his game.
This was evidenced by his 101 penalty minutes during last season, placing him firmly in first on the Cougars in this category.
|Fudger looks to grab the puck during a playoff game against the Greater Vancouver Canadians in 2019. (Cariboo Cougars photo)|
Fudger’s take no prisoners style of play was one of the attributes that put him on Cariboo GM Trevor Sprague’s scouting list in the first place back in 2017.
“He was obviously a northern guy and had a lot of the traits that we like as a northern guy,” Sprague said. “He had natural ability as a skater and a willingness to play a physical game. He had an offensive upside to him when we saw him at prospects camp in the lower mainland.”
Sprague commented how Fudger quickly put in the work necessary to make the jump to Junior A hockey. “The speed of the game, and the process of being able to play the game at a higher level,” Sprague said of the areas where Fudger did the best job adjusting during his time in Prince George. “Our organization and the coaching staff did a great job with him.”
Fudger agrees, commending the Cougars organization for helping him grow in many different facets.
“I’ve been with Cariboo for the past two years and the organization, coaches, volunteers, everything has been amazing,” Fudger said. “I’ve developed as a player, and they set me up not only for hockey, but life as well. I definitely wouldn’t be here without them and everybody in the organization.”
|Brett Fudger put in time at a Peewee Seawolves practice on Nov. 25, 2017. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)|
Fudger originally opted to play with the Cougars in part to stay in the north. Now looking at a seven hour, 650 kilometre drive from Prince George, and much farther from his home of Prince Rupert, Fudger is confident despite how far he will be from home.
“I liked representing the North here with Cariboo. But I have to take my play down to Vernon and I’m excited to do that, and still represent who I am as a person, my family, and also Prince Rupert.”
Giving back to the community that gave him his start has always been a big theme of Fudger’s, who can often be found at the rink volunteering with youth players when he is home.
“Prince Rupert minor hockey is my stepping stone, that’s where everything started. I like to go out with the kids and have fun with them,” Fudger said.
Fudger is keeping all his options on the table as far as this opportunity is concerned, saying he would be thrilled to earn a scholarship to play collegiate hockey in the American NCAA or U Sports in Canada after his junior hockey days.
Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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