Alex Newhook has always felt the need to prove himself.
Despite his accomplishments, despite where he has gone and what he has
done, there was always someone – himself included – that saw the potential
for bigger and better things.
The push to reach that potential, to be the best Alex Newhook he can be, is
what has taken the 17-year-old from one side of the country to the other,
to the cusp of the first round of the NHL Entry Draft and, this week, to
the 2018 World Junior A Challenge.
It started early, with a decision by the Avalon Minor Hockey Association
product to leave his St. John’s, N.L., home ahead of his Bantam AAA year
and seek out new challenges in Ontario.
“Playing at home and going up through the ranks there was great, and I
loved it,” he says, “but for me, at that time, I just needed better
competition and more exposure, and going to Ontario was a good fit for me.”
Newhook spent two years with the York Simcoe Express, captaining the Minor
Midget AAA team in 2016-17, posting 74 points in 33 games and catching the
eye of Major Junior scouts – he was selected 41st overall by the Halifax
Mooseheads in the QMJHL Entry Draft.
But another tough decision loomed, and Newhook continued his cross-country
tour by committing instead to the Victoria Grizzlies of the British
Columbia Hockey League, choosing the U.S. college route over the Canadian
“I was looking at options to stay in Canada, and the B.C. Hockey League is
obviously a great option, it’s looked at as probably the best Junior A
league in Canada and maybe North America,” he says. “So to go out there and
be in Victoria, it’s a great city and a great organization. It’s great to
be there, and I’m happy with my decision.”
He should be. All Newhook – a Boston College commit – has done since
arriving on Vancouver Island is put up 119 points in 76 games. He filled
his trophy case last season with the BCHL rookie of the year and CJHL
national rookie of the year awards, and played his way onto the BCHL First
All-Star Team and BCHL All-Rookie Team.
Those accomplishments, along with a four-points-in-five-games performance
with Canada Black at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, earned
Newhook a shot at Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team for the 2018
Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
The trip to Calgary for selection camp was an eye-opener for Newhook, who
was left off the final roster and watched from home as Canada won gold in
“Going into a camp like that, all that’s really on your mind is making that
team,” he says. “If you don’t do that, it’s motivation. Proving them wrong
is something anyone wants to do when they don’t make a team. So for me,
keeping it in the back of my head at all times as motivation is what I had
He hasn’t had to wait long for his next chance at wearing the Maple Leaf.
Newhook is among the leaders on a talented Canada West team in search of
its second-consecutive World Junior A Challenge gold medal in Bonnyville.
The tournament is also potentially one last chance to showcase his skills
in best-on-best competition ahead of the NHL draft next summer; Newhook has
been tagged as an ‘A’ player by NHL Central Scouting, meaning he is a
candidate to be selected in the first round.
Despite the extra attention, Newhook isn’t feeling any extra pressure to
“In your draft year, you’re going to have eyes on you no matter where you
are or no matter what’s going on,” he says. “Trying to get better every
day, every week and not really worry about what other people think or what
other people are seeing – that’s what I’m focusing on.”
In the age of at-your-fingertips information, Newhook can’t help but know
where he stands as the draft approaches. TSN director of scouting Craig
Button released his latest Craig’s List rankings earlier this week with
Newhook at No. 22, and various mock drafts have him somewhere around the
middle of the first round.
Just like with every decision he has made on his cross-Canada hockey
journey, everyone has an opinion on where he belongs – or doesn’t belong.
The key, though, is not putting too much stock in those opinions.
“It’s around, so it’s hard not to look at it,” he says. “Just seeing it and
taking it with a grain of salt is really all you can do. Just focus on
getting better all the time, that’s the main thing for me right now. There
are lots of different people who are going to have you at different spots.
“Seeing myself up there with top guys in the world is pretty special. To
stay amongst those guys and stay atop of that class is definitely
motivational, but it’s something you can’t really worry about too much at