It’s hard to focus on just one player from the Columbia Valley Rockies that deserves mention for outstanding play this season, as there are several players at various positions that fit the bill.
But when it came down to it, I had to pick one, and my pick is forward Joe Colborne.
Though he joined the team a bit late in the season thanks to a messy release process, Colborne time and again showed drive and determination as well as a great knowledge of the game.
As one of the Rockies’ leading scorers, Colborne provided a much needed spark of offense whenever he hit the ice. Colborne also carried his weight on the defensive end, playing on one of the team’s penalty kill units, where he consistently showed strong defensive instincts.
“There’s nothing negative you can say about Joe,” coach Marc Ward said. “He’s been a tremendous leader, he works extremely hard off the ice and he’s always in a positive mood — I’ve never heard him say anything negative. He’s highly skilled and a very competitive player. He’s the guy we want to model our program on.”
Colborne has been playing hockey from a very young age — his father first got him into skates when he was about two years old. Colborne says that his mother had wanted him to play baseball, but as a former NCAA hockey player his father really pushed him towards the hockey side.
“My dad is my biggest inspiration,” he said. “He’s played (at higher levels of hockey) his whole life, and I just wanted to be like him.”
Colborne says he first really realized that hockey might be the thing for him while playing bantam hockey. One season he put up a ton of points and decided that he’d like to someday play junior A and possibly NCAA.
Although originally slated to play in the BCHL this season if not for some administrative difficulties, Colborne says that there were times before joining the Rockies that he considered just quitting hockey to work full-time.
“I considered quitting hockey and just working,” he said. “But I just need hockey in my life, and that’s why I’m here.”
The Rockies, for one, were glad that he decided to continue with hockey. In 34 games Colborne had 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points on the year. He says his favourite NHL player is Patrick Kane, and says that he tries to emulate his style on the ice.
“He’s a playmaker, he shoots when he can, but he’s a playmaker first, and that’s what I love to do,” Colborne explained. “I’d also say that I’m a leader, I help the boys out by bringing some good emotion and pre-game speeches.”
“He’s a tremendous leader,” Ward added. “I see Joe being very successful in hockey, and while where he goes from here is not for us to determine, if we’re fortunate enough to have him back next year that obviously puts us in an excellent position.”
While Colborne’s future as a Rockies player is uncertain at this point pending junior A tryouts later in the year, he says he’s enjoyed every moment of this season, and is truly grateful for coaches Marc and Jan Kascak for bringing him out to join the squad.
“I’ve loved being here,” Colborne said. “We’ve battled all season and we have done well, it’s been tough playing with the number of guys we’ve had but we’ve made a good season out of it. “At the end of the day, it’s not about the record, but how much everybody individually improves, which is what I base (success) on.”
The Rockies closed out their season this past weekend with games against Fernie.