When the Bulldogs polled fans early in the year on who would get the nod to franchises all-decade team, there was little debate around the top goaltender in the minds of fans. When it was all added up, John Hawthorne grabbed over 80% of the vote.
One season removed from his time in Port Alberni, his popularity remains sky high.
Hawthorne suited up in 91 games over two seasons with the Bulldogs. In his final junior season, Hawthorne posted a sparkling .918 save percentage, playing behind a team that was often over-matched a lot of nights.
When it comes to grabbing a meal in town, Boomerang’s Cafe topped his list, although his former billet’s cooking received an honourable mention. As good as the home cooked goodness was, it just couldn’t edge out a double-benny on a Sunday morning after a big win the night before.
One of the things that draws players to Port Alberni is the seemingly limitless outdoor opportunities, and for Hawthorne it was no different. Off days often saw Hawthorne and his teammates get out into nature in some form. Hiking the lookout is pretty tough to beat.
While ultimate team success eluded the Bulldogs during Hawthorne’s time he favourably looked back on the night Michael Sacco’s OT winner put the Bulldogs up 3-0 in their series with the heavily favoured Victoria Grizzlies. While the Grizzlies did rally to knock off the Bulldogs in 7 games, Hawthorne recalls that game as the loudest and craziest he had ever seen the Dawg Pound.
Hawthorne just completed his first season at Northern Michigan and he was thrilled with his Freshman year at school. “the way we’re treated by the staff, community and fans is just incredible” said Hawthorne. “It’s a really positive enviroment that is truly designed to bring the best out of each player both on the ice and in the classroom.”
Much like the Bulldogs and the BCHL, Hawthorne and his Northern Michigan teammates face an uncertain 2020-2021 season. “COVID-19 has changed all our plans, but we remain a strong team heading into next season. It will be a fun challenge once we do resume regular playing activities. All we can do is take each day as a group and try to become the best team we can.”