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2019/20 Spotlight: Alex DiPaolo

PHOTO: Garrett James

An offseason phone call changed the summer for forward Alex DiPaolo, who found out he was heading to Penticton in a trade with the Coquitlam Express. “I got a phone call from Fred Harbinson and said I had been traded to the Vees and it was a rush of emotion,” DiPaolo said, “I had a lot of phone calls to make including to my parents, Coach (Jason) Fortier in Coquitlam and my billet family there, who were out of this world, and after all the thank you’s, it was a rush of excitement and I’m really happy to be joining such a great organization.”

The path to the BCHL and Junior ‘A’ started in Greater Toronto for DiPaolo, who played his Bantam AAA and Minor Midget AAA with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens before moving to the United States to attend Salisbury School located in Salisbury, Connecticut. For a kid from Oakville, Ontario, it was the first time away from home and in a new country, “It was probably the best two years of my life being at Salisbury,” mentioned DiPaolo, “Moving away from home when you’re 16 is difficult but it was a pretty cool and unique opportunity to focus on school, hockey and making the best friendships you could make at an all-boys school.”

“It helped me grow up a lot, moving away in my teenage years,” DiPaolo continued, “But I’m really thankful for everyone there who made that possible and helped me mature as a hockey player and a person.”

Collecting 20 goals and 60 points in 58 games with the Knights, DiPaolo drew interest from out West in the way of the Express where a relationship with Coquitlam Head Coach and General Manager Jason Fortier helped pave the way for a BCHL career, “We had a large group of guys from Salisbury that were going to play a year of Junior, picking between the USHL and the BCHL and a good chunk of us picked the BCHL,” DiPaolo recalled, “I met (Coach) Fortier at a tournament in Philadelphia and being two Ontario guys, he knew me from there and thought it would be a good opportunity for me to come out to Coquitlam.”

DiPaolo didn’t take long to adjust to the game in the BCHL, scoring 16 goals and adding 32 assists for 48 points in 53 games with the Express during the 2018/19 campaign, “It was just kind of about finding yourself as a player and knowing what kind of a role you’ll fit into,” said DiPaolo, “For me, it was doing what I could for the team and a lot of guys were contributors on the scoreboard and I happened to be one of them and I thought we had a pretty successful season. It was a small adjustment but there was a great group of guys that made it pretty easy and it was a great experience.”

Coming to a new city in Penticton, there’s a lot of excitement for the 19-year-old, “Being able to play in front of 3,000+ fans a night is something I’m going to be a bit anxious about in the beginning,” said DiPaolo, “Last season, we played there once and it was pretty dark when we rolled into town so I didn’t get a chance to see much so I’m excited and have heard great things and looked it up on Google to see what it looks like. I can’t wait to see the mountains and I’ve heard about the lakes and everything around the area that makes it so nice.”

DiPaolo is coming to a new team but will have a familiar face in the program as fellow Ontarian Evan McIntyre is going into his second season with the club. Growing up playing against each other, the 6’1″, 190-pound forward is looking forward to being on the same side of the puck for once, “We’ve known each other since we were about 10 years old and always have played on different teams,” DiPaolo explained, “This will be the first time we will be playing together and he’s one of my closest friends so it’s going to be a cool experience and is something I’m looking forward to.”

The left-hand shot brings with him a commitment to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which he made in 2017 with the program being on the rise in recent years, including a trip to the Frozen Four last season, “When I committed to them, it was a new group of coaches in Greg Carvel, Ben Barr and Justin DeMichiel and seeing where they have taken the program in the last two years makes me more and more excited to get out there,” DiPaolo said, “It’s something I look forward to every day, having a chance to play there and seeing all the videos online and it’s something that is really cool.”

When it comes to play on the ice, DiPaolo likes to see himself as someone who can contribute in all three ends of the ice, “I see myself as a good 200-foot player and versatile in being able to play both wing and centre,” DiPaolo explained, “I’m a player that has some skill but likes to throw my weight around and get in the corners and lead by example. I see myself as a bit of a Sean Couturier kind of player with nothing too flashy but a reliable and consistent player and always doing the right things on the ice.”

DiPaolo and the rest of the Vees are set to hit the ice in August 19th ahead of the 2019/20 season with the first game of the exhibition schedule taking place on Wednesday, August 21st in West Kelowna against the Warriors. Season tickets are on sale now and are available by contacting Laura Carleton at (250) 493-8337 ext. 4.