It may have only been a couple of seasons, but there is little question that Mitch Deelstra left his mark on the Bulldogs program.
Deelstra, a native of Wallace Ontario, came to the Bulldogs after two solid seasons with the Listowel Cyclones of the GOJHL in Ontario. Back to back 20+ goal seasons with Cyclones parlayed into the opportunity with the Bulldogs and Deelstra more than held up his end of the bargain. In 113 games, Deelstra scored 45 goals and 81 points to go along with 137 penalty minutes. He also finished his junior career as captain of the Bulldogs.
“My time as a Bulldog meant so much to me,” said Deelstra. “I now have a group of brothers scattered across North America and a family in Port Alberni. I grew as a player and a person, and I can’t thank everyone enough for what they did for me. I’ll cherish my time there for the rest of my life.”
As a growing man, few things appeal to players more than a hearty meal. For Deelstra, selecting his favourite spot was a tough one. “Port Taco or Boomerangs, it’s a tie, and it would be tough to choose.”
Coming from Ontario, there is little doubt what left one of the most significant impacts on Deelstra. The natural beauty of Port Alberni is tough to beat. “I’ll miss waking up and looking out my window and seeing mountains everywhere,” said Deelstra. He was also known to snag a fish or two during his Bulldogs tenure as well.
While there were lots of games that stand out to Deelstra, one, in particular, jumped to the front of his mind as the most impactful. “The game against Penticton this year was awesome. The rink was full, and when we won, we banged our sticks on the glass around the arena. To see every single member of the crowd cheering us and banging on the glass in return shows the love this city really has for us.” You never know when, or how a new tradition is born, but the Bulldogs circling the glass after a win is something that will live on.
Deelstra’s career as a Bulldog will live on, just in a new spot. Mitch will now suit up for the Ferris State Bulldogs when he starts the next chapter of his playing career in the NCAA. “I’m excited to start school believe it or not,” joked Deelstra. “I’m also really excited to see the increased level of play and take my game to the next level.”
Bulldogs club President David Michaud was proud to call Mitch his team’s first captain under his watch. “For Joe Martin & myself to have Mitch as our first captain was something really great for us. Mitch really exemplified what I want out of a leader. I look back to the game in Nanaimo when he was viciously crossed checked from behind and suffered a fairly serious facial injury. In true Mitch Deelstra fashion, he was out the next game with a full visor on and ready to go. Having Mitch as our leader last season will lay the foundation for our returning players to come back and keep building on what we started last year.”
While good-byes are always tough, they are a part of life in junior hockey. It’s okay to be excited about looking ahead, while fondly looking back and remembering what you had. “The relationships formed will make my time as Bulldog live on for me.”