Hodges hunting for roster spot

Steve Hodges played five games for Chilliwack last season

Steve Hodges played five games for Chilliwack last season

If you were to hand Steven Hodges $500 and tell him to go out and plan the perfect day, he would have everything mapped out in a split second.

“Skydiving,” the 16-year-old says without even the slightest hesitation. “I would take that $500 and I would go skydiving. That’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do.”

A self-described ‘adrenaline junkie,’ Chilliwack’s 2009 first round bantam draft pick has jumped off cliffs and bungie-jumped 110 feet off a platform at West Edmonton Mall.

Hodges is no stranger to adventure.

“I like that kind of thing, but bungie jumping just isn’t doing it for me any more,” he laughed. “I think skydiving would be an unreal experience. Falling through the sky at terminal velocity, it’d be scary, and I’d actually worry I might not pull my chute.”

Not that that would stop him.

Asked why he would volunteer to hurl himself from an airplane at 10,000 feet, an activity that 99 per cent of us would shy away from, Hodges smiles and says, ‘No fear.’

Maybe this is the sort of mindset that is acquired when one grows up in the North West Territories, land of big bears, cold temperatures and snow. Lots and lots of snow.

“It’s really very nice up there,” Hodges said, providing the sales pitch for his hometown of Yellowknife. “You definitely want to be there in the winter. There’s so much powder, the Ski-Dooing is unreal. It would be a nice change from somewhere that’s hot.”

It is a place where hunting ptarmigan is a favourite past-time.

A ptarmigan is a member of the grouse family, looking very much like a white crow. Hodges bagged his first ptarmigan when he was five years old.

“You cook ‘em up and they’re absolutely delicious,” Hodges explained. “But they’re not very smart. What we did before dad would let us shoot guns is we’d sneak up behind them, grab ‘em by the neck and give ‘em a couple twirls.”

Sounds a bit harsh, but keep in mind Hodges is describing a place that is steeped in hunting culture, a place where cariboo and elk roam free and his dad was once chased out of a tent by a marauding bear.

“I’ve never hunted any bigger animals, but ice fishing is something else that you really want to try if you go up there,” he added. “What you do is you drill your hole in the ice and you set up your T-shaped fishing rod. Then you go hunting or Ski-Dooing for a couple hours and when you come back you’ve got fish. You don’t even have to sit there if you don’t want to.”

Since moving to Delta three years ago for hockey, Hodges has missed out on some of his favourite activities.

But whenever he gets the urge to shoot something, an easy fix is nearby.

“I like to play paintball,” he said. “There was a good place that I found in Delta, but I haven’t found a place in Chilliwack yet. I’ve got my own big gun, and when I get a chance, I like to get out in the middle of nowhere and play.”

Hodges believes paintball and hockey actually share a surprising amount of common traits.

“Both are about team-work,” he said. “In paintball and hockey, communication is huge. If you’ve got a guy across the field and you’re pinned down and need cover, you’ve got to get him where you want him. Same in hockey. You’ve got to know where your linemates are and where they’re going to be.”

The other benefit of paint-ball is pain tolerance.

On more than one occasion, Hodges has been pelted by high-velocity projectiles.

“After a while, you get used to it and it doesn’t hurt so much anymore,” he said. “It’s the same with hits in hockey. You get used to it, and pretty soon you can give and take hits without worrying about it too much.”

A lot of Hodges on-ice behaviour is explained by his upbringing.

He skates like the wind, and could avoid 90 per cent of the physical play if he really wanted to. But in a five-game regular-season audition with Chilliwack last season, Hodges seemed eager to stick his nose into things, wading into battles along the boards and initiating contact.

He seems to have no fear playing against opponents three or four years older than he is.

And once again, the reason can be traced back to Yellowknife.

“I’ve got two older brothers back there and they beat me up a lot,” he laughed. “They’ve taught me lots about life and hockey and they’ve humbled me enough so I’m not rattled by any of the 19 or 20 year olds I see in the Western Hockey League.”

Hodges is the fourth first-rounder to skate for the Bruins since they entered the league in 2006-07, following in the skate-steps of Ryan Howse, Kevin Sundher and Mitch Topping.

Coming off a successful year with the Fraser Valley Bruins in the Major Midget Hockey League, Hodges believes he can not only survive, but thrive in his rookie season.

While the Bruins coaching staff will do their best to down-play expectations, Hodges believes he has the ability to do something no Chilliwack player has done before.

“I’ve never been more ready for something,” he said. “You always want to be the best, and my goal is to be the best. Through hard work, I believe I can be the WHL rookie of the year, and that’s what I’m shooting for this year.”

Hodges is skating at rookie camp until Sunday, and he will join the veterans at main camp next week.

Local fans can get a good look at him during the annual Black/Gold inter-squad game that takes place Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Prospera Centre.

Just Posted

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack woman’s 100-km birthday marathon to benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read