August 5, 2014
by Steve Ewen, The Province
If Charlie Finn has an “I told you so” for the B.C. Hockey League, he hides it well.
The 21-year-old (Jan 16, 1993) netminder from North Vancouver is saying all the right things about the Junior A loop, even though he couldn’t get a team in the circuit to give him a crack at a starting spot as a 17-year-old following a standout midget season with the Vancouver North West Giants.
That attitude could have something do with how well things have worked out for him so far.
Finn signed on with the Kingston Voyageurs, a team in the Ontario Junior A league, for the 2010-11 season. Three stellar seasons there, including a run as a finalist for national Junior A player of the year in 2012-13, led to a scholarship with the Colgate University Raiders.
He won the starting gig as a freshman with the Hamilton, N.Y., team this past season and fashioned a 16-8-4 record, along with a 2.35 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.
He parlayed that into a free-agent look from the New Jersey Devils at their development camp earlier this summer.
“The BCHL is a competitive league,” said Finn, a North Shore Winter Club minor hockey product who has been working out of late at Canlan Ice Sports in North Vancouver with the likes of Vancouver Canucks prospect Jake Virtanen and the Vancouver Giants’ trio of Jackson Houck, Matt Bellerive and Arvin Atwal.
“It looked like there wasn’t space for me there.
“It didn’t make me angry at all. Not at all. I looked at the teams I had the opportunity to try out for.
“I was invited to a few main camps. I got the feeling that they thought I was good and they wanted me to play for them, but they wanted me to play for them the following year.
“I wanted to play Junior A as a 17-year-old. I had that in my head. I was committed to doing pretty much anything to do that.”
Finn had helped the North West Giants capture the famed Mac’s tournament in Calgary at midseason in 2009-10. They went on to lose 2-1 in overtime in the third and deciding game to Red Deer for a spot in the Telus Cup national championships.
Teammates like Bellerive and Griffin Reinhart, the New York Islanders prospect, went on to play in the WHL the following season.
When Finn found the BCHL wanting, his family started looking at Ontario.
The netminder’s father, noted X-Files producer Joseph Finn, is originally from Napanee, Ont. Various relatives still live in that part of the province.
The Finns approached the Voyageurs, in large part because Joseph Finn’s sister, Monna Splinter, lives in Kingston and could take Charlie in.
The Voyageurs did their due diligence and Hockey Canada, who needed to OK a move because Finn was under 18, signed off on the transfer because he had family in the area.
Over three seasons, he fashioned a 55-25-7 record with Kingston, to go with 13 shutouts, a 2.22 goals against average and a .936 save percentage.
His favourite goaltender growing up was Jose Theodore, who was in the middle of his celebrated run with the Montreal Canadiens. Somewhat fittingly, Finn is an averaged sized guy — 5-foot-11, 165 pounds — who relies on being nimble and agile.
He does say that he now tries to borrow little bits from Jonathan Quick, Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price.
Where he’s going next is difficult to gauge. Colgate lost just two seniors, and one of them was Finn’s backup, from a team that finished 20-14-5 and ranked 13th in both the NCAA national polls last spring.
If Finn can help spearhead another strong Colgate season, you’d think NHL interest would increase.
It’s obvious New Jersey took notice and, assuming they liked what they saw, they’ll be paying particular attention to how this season plays out for him.
“Phenomenal organization, unbelievable amenities and facilities,” said Finn. “It was really a ton of knowledge they were trying to pass down. For me, I was just trying to absorb as much as possible.
“It was awesome to get that kind of experience. No one signs a pro contract out of those camps. They’re for the learning experience, first taste, first look.”