HOUGHTON — With the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team’s defensive corps in need of quality players after graduating three four-year starters and losing a third to a professional contract, they may have found themselves a diamond in Victoria, British Columbia, native Mitch Meek.
Meek, who was originally committed to Clarkson, has spent parts of the last six seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League playing for three of the league’s top franchises. Playing for four franchises in total, Meek only missed out on the playoffs in the first year, where he played in just three games.
With that incredible wealth of experience playing the game at the highest level what is arguably Canada’s top junior ‘A’ league, Meek is more than ready to step in and make an impact for the Huskies.
“[I] feel like I am going into a good situation with the coaching staff and everything,” said Meek. “[I] know that if I come down and work really hard, I will get an opportunity.”
With the Huskies having lost the steady two-way play of Matt Roy to the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, the 6-foot-1 Meek appears to have a lot the same qualities that made Roy so successful in the current WCHA. He even shoots right-handed.
In the midst of a two-goal, six-point campaign for the South Island Thunderbirds, a midget team close to home, he was called up to the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Playing in three games for the Capitals, Meek did not pick up a point, but gained valuable experience which helped him step in the following season with the Victoria Grizzlies.
“I was 15 years old,” said Meek. “It’s definitely an older league back then. The coaches were really good to me. They let me come practice and kind of get my feet wet. It really helped me a lot, so it was awesome.”
In his first full campaign with the Grizzlies, Meek scored just two goals and four points while battling some injuries. The adjustment was not an easy one for Meek, but it was an important learning season.
In his second full season with the Grizzlies, Meek scored one goal, but posted a career-high 18 assists in 45 contests. He followed that up by helping the Grizzlies to a deep playoff run where they played 16 games. Meek chipped in one goal and four assists during the run.
During that season, he played with a set of triplets who are well known to Tech fans.
“We had a lot of older guys move on,” said Meek. “It was good for me. I got a lot of power play time, and played with three really good players in the Fitzgeralds. It was good to kind of contribute a little more.”
For his third full season in the BCHL, Meek wound up being dealt to the Vernon Vipers after six games with the Grizzlies. The move to Vernon proved valuable for Meek as he potted six goals and 16 points in 50 regular season games, giving him seven goals and 18 points overall.
The Vipers made the postseason, and Meek was able to chip in two assists in 11 playoff games.
“We had six Division I-committed defensemen,” said Meek. “We were one game away. We felt like, if we could have beaten Penticton in the Interior Final in Game 7, we were the ones who would have gone all the way.”
Meek started the 2015-16 season as one of a few veteran players for the Vipers and soon found himself changing addresses after getting traded to Cowichan Valley for a Vernon coach’s son. Meek stepped into a leadership role with the Capitals, both on the ice and in the locker room. On the ice, Meek blossomed, scoring five goals and setting a new career-high in assists with 26 for 31 points in 48 games.
“I had an awesome [defensive] partner,” said Meek. “We just clicked. I played a ton and I played well offensively. I was confident. We put up a lot of points, and I had a lot of opportunities.”
The Capitals bowed out just four games into the BCHL playoffs, but Meek continued to chip in where he could, notching two assists in those four contests.
Last season, as a 20-year-old, Meek played for the Penticton Vees after choosing to de-commit from Clarkson just prior to the start of the year. Knowing that he still wanted to make the jump to college hockey, Meek chose to go to Penticton, a team with a strong track record of placing players in the NCAA.
Helping the Vees to the top spot in the Interior Division with a record of 41-13-3-1, Meek picked up three goals and 19 points in 43 regular season games. Meek added another three goals and seven points as the Vees went deep into the BCHL playoffs, playing 17 total games over three rounds as they took the league playoff title.
“I feel like it really helped shape me as a man,” said Meek of the experience of de-committing and returning to juniors. “I put my work boots on and really got after it. I had to work for what I wanted, and I realized that I have to put the time in and prove people wrong.”
Meek sees himself as a reliable defender with an offensive upside, not unlike Dan Hamhuis of the Dallas Stars. Hamhuis is described as being “A defenseman with excellent hockey sense. Skilled with the puck, can play big minutes” according to eliteprospects.com.
Meek saw Hamhuis play quite a bit when the NHLer was playing for the Vancouver Canucks, and does seem to play a similar style.
If Meek can prove his reliability early in his career with the Huskies, he will help fill one of those open spots in their lineup sooner rather than later. With the ability to be comfortable on the power play, Meek could slot in very quickly and get every opportunity to succeed under new head coach Joe Shawhan.