Simon Chen helps kill a penalty during a game between the Cowichan Valley Capitals and Alberni Valley Bulldogs in January. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Capitals’ Chen gets Div. I deal

Defenceman headed to Alabama Huntsville

Cowichan Valley Capitals defenceman Simon Chen has committed to an NCAA Div. 1 program for the 2018-19 season.

The son of Capitals owner Ray Zhang, Chen will head south to the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he will skate for the Chargers.

Chen recently aged out of junior hockey after spending the last two seasons with the Caps.

“I am extremely appreciative for all the teammates I have had at Cowichan and for the coaching staffs and their endless support throughout the two years I’ve spent at Cowichan,” Chen said from Beijing in a press release issued by the team last week. “I feel greatly honoured to be receiving this opportunity to play college hockey at the University of Alabama Huntsville.”

Zhang is thrilled to see his son moving on after wrapping up his junior career.

“This is great news and a great moment for Simon and our family,” he said. “After hard work and a ‘never give up’ attitude, Simon made it happen. This is just the first goal of many to come. I believe Simon will reach his dream to play at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing on China’s national team. Thank you to all of the people who have supported Simon over the years on the Capitals and in the Cowichan Valley.”

Prior to joining the Caps, Chen played minor hockey in his hometown of Beijing and high school hockey in the U.S., and played for China at the 2015 World U18 Championship Div. IIB.

Chen played 52 games in both of his seasons with the Capitals. As a rookie in 2016-17, he scored one goal and added two assists, and posted 16 penalty minutes. In 2017-18 he scored twice and set up nine other goals, and spent 25 minutes in the penalty box. He was an alternate captain and a member of the powerplay and penalty kill units.

Last summer, Chen took part in the Vancouver Canucks Development Camp.

“We are very happy to have Simon Chen commit to a D1 scholarship at the University of Alabama Huntsville,” Capitals head coach Brian Passmore said. “This has been a goal for Simon and he has worked very hard to accomplish this. Simon worked hard both on and off the ice to improve his game. Simon is a very smart kid and excellent student. This past season he was able to play in all situations and gain valuable experience. Simon is a team player and we wish him all the best with his collegiate academics and athletics.”

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