Abbotsford product brings experience to Selkirk Saints’ blue line

Virtanen brings 136 games of Junior A experience to Castlegar-based Selkirk defence corps.

Virtanen is pleased to be joining the Saints.

Castlegar, B.C. — The Selkirk College Men’s Hockey program is pleased to announce a playing commitment from defenceman Stefan Virtanen (Abbotsford, B.C.) to attend Selkirk College and compete for the Saints beginning in January 2014 when the team returns from winter break to resume their 2013/14 B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League season schedule.

Virtanen is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound blueliner who joins Selkirk following four seasons of Junior A hockey, most recently with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Calgary Mustangs. He scored six goals and totaled 19 points and 74 minutes in penalties in 41 games last season, which he split between the Mustangs and the Drumheller Dragons.

The 21-year old spent the two previous seasons with the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Flin Flon Bombers, where he suited up in 66 games before missing much of his 19-year old year due to injury. His junior career started in the BCHL, where he picked up two assists and 45 penalty minutes in 29 games with the Williams Lake Timberwolves. Overall, Virtanen brings 136 games of Junior A experience to the Selkirk defence corps. His statistical totals include 11 goals, 21 assists and 207 penalty minutes.

“I’m thrilled to add a player of Stefan’s character and experience level to our roster for the second half of this season and beyond,” says Saints head coach Jeff Dubois. “He’s a versatile defenceman who can fit in and thrive in all situations. He brings a tough, competitive attitude and he’s a heavy hitter, but he showed in the AJHL last season that he’s really developed the offensive side of this game as well.”

The Abbotsford, B.C. product began the current season on a try-out with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Mississippi Surge and got his first taste of pro hockey when he suited up in a number of preseason games. He plans to study Business Administration at Selkirk College.

“I can’t wait to get to Selkirk and begin my college hockey career,” says Virtanen, who describes himself as a quick, offensive, puck moving defenceman that plays with a physical edge. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the college and team, and I’m looking forward to being part of a winning organization along with helping out in the community.”

“My experience with the Mississippi Surge was fantastic. I learned what it takes to play at that level and how fast everything needs to be. I’m going to bring what I have learned to the Saints, develop into the best player I can be, and hopefully find a good pro opportunity after we win a few more championships.”

The Saints are next in action on Saturday, November 16th when they host Simon Fraser University at the Castlegar Recreation Complex. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m.