NWT teenager Jonah Bevington signed with the Portland Winterhawks this week, a year after being drafted in the fifth round by the WHL team.
The 15-year-old forward, from Yellowknife, was selected 109th overall in last year's WHL Bantam Draft. He represented the Northwest Territories at the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
He joins Portland following a successful season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy's Edmonton campus in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL).
"I always wanted to do this when I was growing up. It's always been one of my dreams," Bevington told Cabin Radio on Thursday.
In a news release, Winterhawks general manager and head coach Mike Johnston said: "After watching Jonah play this past season, we like his development and are excited that he has chosen to be a part of our program for the next several years."
Ahead of entering the WHL, where checks are harder and the pace faster, Bevington is focused on training – including regular running and lifting to prepare physically for the change.
"I am working out with a personal trainer and going for runs, just doing all the extra stuff," he said.
Jonah’s father, Nick Bevington, was proud of his son when the family heard the news.
“He’s put in the time that he needs to do… his perseverance and efforts paid off," said Nick.
“This is just another positive step along the path to a future in hockey.”
Brad Anstey, one of Jonah's former coaches, is the president of Hockey NWT. He has known Jonah since he was six.
"His character is excellent. He’s a great kid,” said Anstey.
“He’s got a great future ahead of him and he’s coming to realize what his skills are."
Anstey recalled an analogy he uses with all his players: “There are two places to go – one is to the penthouse, and one is to the outhouse.
"You know the outhouse is a little dirty and stinky but when you score, it’s a good feeling. That’s Jonah.
"He’s willing to go to those areas of the ice where he’s gonna have to pay a price and gets banged up. He scores those dirty goals.
“One piece of advice I’d give Jonah or any player is: know who you are, know what you’re good at, conduct yourself with professionalism, and just work your butt off.”
Jonah said: "The end goal would be to play hockey professionally. I think that would be any kid's dream."
He is now a step closer – and already, other NWT talents are coming up behind him.
Earlier this month, in the 2019 WHL Bantam draft, Yellowknifer Logan Cunningham was drafted by the Spokane Chiefs while Carter McLeod was selected by Moose Jaw.