You wouldn’t know it to watch him in action in his B.C. Hockey League debut with the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Saturday night, but Arjun Bawa was in an unfamiliar situation.
“He didn’t get the chance to practice with the guys all week and he just got in last night,” Bawa’s dad, Robin, pointed out between the first and second periods of the game. “I think it’s a little bit of nerves out there, so once he gets settled in he’s gonna be fine.”
The younger Bawa did get settled in, recording three assists in the 6-5 loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at the Cowichan Arena, while taking a regular shift and getting plenty of powerplay time. He came within inches of scoring a goal in the first period when he corralled his own rebound but missed the net on the second chance.
Robin Bawa was born and raised in Duncan and played his minor hockey at Fuller Lake before moving on to the Western Hockey League and eventually the NHL, where he became the first Indo-Canadian player at that level. He made his NHL debut in 1989-90 with the Washington Capitals and played a total of 61 games over four seasons with the Capitals, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Mighty Ducks, registering six goals and 60 penalty minutes. He was inducted into the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame in 2012 and into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2020.
Arjun was born in Richmond and was picked by the Red Deer Rebels 36th overall in the second round of the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft after potting 16 goals, 25 assists and 68 penalty minutes in 29 games with the St. George’s School bantam prep team in the 2019-20 season, and added 68 penalty minutes.
A big body at 6-foot-2 and 172 pounds, Arjun, who just turned 16, has played a few exhibition games in Red Deer this fall, but the coaches didn’t think he was going to play as much there, so he took the opportunity to play with the Capitals.
“[Caps coach Brian Passmore] liked the way he was playing and said that if things don’t work out in Red Deer, he can always have a spot here,” said Robin.
The elder Bawa didn’t get to play junior hockey in Cowichan, but he thinks it will be a great experience for his son.
“I was supposed to play with the Caps, but ended up making Kamloops, so I didn’t get a chance to play a regular season in junior here,” he said. “I think it’s kind of neat for him to play in my hometown. My parents are here and I’ve got a lot of friends here. I think he’s gonna really enjoy it this year.”
Arjun is looking forward to playing in his dad’s hometown this year.
“I think it’s really cool,” he said. “I am able to live with my grandparents in the same house my dad grew up in, and in the same town where he played hockey.”
The younger Bawa is excited about the Caps’ possibilities.
“This year the team is looking pretty good,” he said. “We have a good mix of older and younger players as well as some good leaders. Personally, I believe we are good enough to be a threat in this league.”