PHOTO: Tami Quan
This is the first of four instalments highlighting the graduating 20-year-old players from the Warriors roster, beginning with forward Nic Porchetta
“It felt longer than three and a half months, it felt like I was in West Kelowna the whole season”
An early January trade saw Nic Porchetta, who had played all of his previous three seasons with his hometown Powell River Kings, to West Kelowna and to play for the Warriors in the final half of his junior hockey career. The adjustment was one that Porchetta felt was rather seamless, and a quick one at that.
“The first day after I was traded, I woke up in Vancouver around 6:00 AM and drove from my cousin’s house to West Kelowna,” Porchetta recalls, “I went to my billets and met the Weir’s and went right to the rink after that. I met with Simon (Ferguson) and Ayrton (Nikkel) and basically went right into practice after that. I hadn’t skated in about a month and didn’t eat anything all day but just jumped right into it.”
Getting to that first day in West Kelowna saw the span of 129 regular season games with the Powell River Kings, an organization in which Porchetta knows very well. Nic’s mother worked with the Kings and his father spent time as the team’s bus driver so the Kings were a team that he knew extremely well and one that brought a bit of pressure as well, “Playing for my hometown was great but it was a lot of pressure,” Porchetta explained, “Being the only kid on the team from Powell River and having a personal relationship with the staff there meant being treated a bit differently.”
Like most hockey players, especially from a small town, Porchetta had to make the decision to leave home when he was 14 to attend the Delta Hockey Academy. For Porchetta, it was a good learning experience on living on his own and being able to know the responsibilities of taking care of yourself, “It was a big change for me, adapting to life away from home and not having to depend on my mom all the time and do things like make my lunches,” Porchetta explained, “I spent three years there and it was great and the academy there really shaped me into the person I am today.”
“My billets there, I lived with the Fitzgerald family and they really taught me how to grow up a little bit and take care of myself while I was there. I am grateful for everyone who helped me in my three years at Delta and it helped me get to the jump to play in the BCHL.”
At 16, Porchetta attended three teams camps in the BCHL in search of making a roster and spent the season as an affiliate player in his hometown, “I went to Victoria, Trail and Powell River’s camp and the Kings AP’d me as a 16-year-old and it was like a dream come true playing in front of my hometown,” Porchetta said, “It was pretty much an easy yes for me to go play there and playing for my hometown was a lot of fun.”
Following his first season in the BCHL, the world came to an abrupt halt as COVID-19 stopped things and delayed Porchetta from playing from some time. The BCHL played an exhibition series of games from October to November in 2020 before resuming play with a Pod Season in the spring of 2021. Porchetta and the Kings were under the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which did not lift restrictions to play and join the other 16 teams (excluding Wenatchee) from playing games in 2020. Powell River returned to action in the Pod Season, joining the Coquitlam Express and Surrey Eagles in Burnaby for a 20-game season.
For Porchetta, the forward only got into 6 games during that Pod Season before suffering an injury that sidelined him until the beginning of the 2021/22 season.The 5’9″, 165-pounder played in 52 games during that campaign, posting 8 goals and 26 points and was close to a point-per-game player with the Kings this season in 2022/23, registering 7 goals and 17 points in 18 games before a trade to West Kelowna took place.
“When I got the call that I was going to West Kelowna, I felt rejuvenated to play hockey again”
Porchetta eventually got into 24 games with the Warriors before suiting up for 6 in the playoffs and was an experience that he will remember for a long time, “I loved it from day one, all of the guys welcomed me in and it took me a little bit to break out of my shell but it really helped having a roommate. Ben (MacDonald) and I bonded right away and he became like a brother to me.”
“My billets (Weir family) were awesome and I couldn’t name a guy in that room that I dislike or didn’t get along with,” Porchetta continued, “Those first couple of weeks with the Warriors felt like I had won the lottery almost, we were winning games right away and winning was fun. Just with the way I was treated and I realized my full potential coming to West Kelowna.”
The support from the fanbase and being involved in the community is something that sticks out to Porchetta following his time in the Central Okanagan, “The fans are always out supporting us, cheering us on on social media and watching on HockeyTV,” said Porchetta, “I got to meet some new kids during our Minor Hockey Mentorship program in February and March which was cool and giving back to a different community was felt nice.”
“Now I can go back to West Kelowna and people probably won’t recognize me but I mean, I hope they do. I feel like I was a noticeable face because I was the only guy with a beard on the team.”
So what does the summer hold for the 20-year-old?
“In the next two or three weeks, I’ll be getting on a commercial prawn fishing boat and start fishing,” Porchetta said, “I’m going to be tying traps, baiting traps and all of that kind of stuff. After that, I’ll probably be on a construction crew, building apartment buildings in Powell River. I’ve applied for trade school in Powell River to either take it there or in Nanaimo. I went out in Junior hockey on a good note and I’m proud of myself fo rth