Onto The Next Chapter

Candice Ward/Photo

One door closes.

Another one opens.

After entering the WHL as a 16-year-old with the Vancouver Giants five years ago, Jakob Stukel is now set to embark on the next chapter in his career.

It’s a bittersweet moment for the 21-year-old.

“I think just packing up your gear is when it really hit that I’d be leaving the rink for the last time and that was tough,” Stukel said. “It’s something that you have to do to move on and focus on the next chapter in your life.”

“The friendships I’ve gained is something I’ll take away with me, from my time in Vancouver to here in Calgary, all my teammates have been unreal and I’ve built lasting friendships. It’s been a pleasure to play in this league.”

As the old saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. That was certainly the case for Stukel.

“This was by far the fastest year,” Stukel said. “It still feels like yesterday that we were at camp getting ready for the season to start and now here we are.

“It’s definitely one thing that you have to pass on to the younger guys to be aware of how fast your junior career goes by and to just cherish every moment.”

“They definitely have to have fun with it and this team has a great opportunity next year to be a contender and go far. It should be very exciting for years to come.”

The final numbers of Stukel’s WHL career speak volumes: 103 goals and 84 assists to finish with 197 points. The final season was also a career year for him, as he finished with 37 goals and 64 assists, earning the Hitmen Leading Scorer award and also Player of the Year honours for the club.

His numbers also earned him a spot in Hitmen history, as his 94 goals with the Hitmen rank eighth all-time and his 173 points 17th.

“I accomplished some things that I was really proud of and put in the work to achieve the goals I set out for myself,” he said. “All the hard work over the years has paid off and I just have to keep doing that going forward and I think more will come my way.”

After being drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2016 NHL Draft, Stukel finds himself in a unique situation as he remains unsigned by the club. The Canucks still own the rights to the forward until June 1, after which he will become a free agent.

With being in a sit-and-wait situation, Stukel is determined to make his dream of playing in the NHL a reality and returning to the Stampede City one way or another.

“When I first got traded here, it was cool knowing that I would play at the Saddledome every night,” Stukel said. “It’s my favourite place to play and the fans made it a great atmosphere.”

“It’s a goal of mine to come back here and play in the NHL. If I can do that and have my billets in attendance, it’ll definitely be a full circle moment and so surreal.”

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