For Peter Michailides, the decision was a no-brainer.
The 19-year-old forward had just learned the Melville Millionaires wouldn’t need his services this season and instead offered him a one-way ticket to a couple of Junior A teams in northern Manitoba and Ontario.
“At that point I kind of wasn’t interested in any of those options so when Mark called me to come down to Osoyoos I kind of set my heart on it,” he said.
Mark, of course, is Chase, who happened to coach the rookie Michailides in Melville last year.
“He’s a big, strong young man,” said Chase of the player he encouraged to join him in the South Okanagan. “He didn’t get many opportunities last year, but he absorbed all the information and he is now getting an opportunity to apply it.”
The second-year Junior has made an impact on the ice — he’s now tied with Brock Marple for the team scoring lead — but it’s his leadership off the ice that has the Coyote’s head coach singing his praises.
“He’s disciplined and he’s determined and carries himself like a professional,” said Chase. “He had to learn all those things as a rookie in Junior A. That will offer a lot to the 16 rookies that we have in our dressing room.”
And, Chase added, having Michailides in the dressing room is like “having a piece from the past.”
“That’s given me a little confidence as well,” he said. “He can come in here and he can tell me anything and I can tell him anything. We’re always going to have that mutual respect for each other.”
Michailides also recognizes his role and is grateful for the opportunity.
“Mark’s a good coach,” Michailides said Tuesday following a Coyotes practice. “He’s brought me in to give some leadership to the team and just show the younger guys the ropes. I’ve enjoyed the transition down here — I like it a lot.”
The winger is one of just a handful of veterans on a Coyotes squad that is as feisty as it is green. Nevertheless Michailides’ size — he’s six foot and tips the scale at 190 lbs. — allows him to carry some authority into the dressing room.
“I’m there to be a big brother for them,” he suggests. “There’s only a few veterans on this team, but we work hard in practice and help the younger guys build good habits. We’re trying to just show them what to do, how to be a junior hockey player.”
Michailides said he can see the improvement. The club left their game at home when it went to Sicamous on Friday, he confesses, but brought it with them to the rink Saturday night.
“We got that win against Columbia Valley, which was huge,” he said. “We had a really good bonding moment after — we all hung out. We’re becoming a team.
“We definitely have a lot more confidence in ourselves. We’re looking to make that next step here.”
It’s a step down from the Junior A hockey he played last year, but Michailides said playing a big role with the Coyotes is better than what he would have walked into in northern Manitoba — even with the new headwear he’s now sporting.
“I made the right choice coming to Osoyoos,” he said. “Except for the cages. I don’t like the cages.”