St. John's, Newfoundland, is about as far east as you can get in North America before Greenland. The remote Canadian island is home to colorful homes, great seafood and, similarly to the rest of the country, a love for the sport of hockey.
Enter the Newhook family.
Alex Newhook, his younger sister Abby, and parents Paula and Shawn can be the first to attest to the hockey culture that has developed in Newfoundland. Alex first started skating at the age of 4, playing with his childhood friends every year before he realized that he needed more at age 14. The logical step, then, was to improve off the island. Abby was never too far behind, picking up her skates after spending long hours at the rink watching her older brother to quickly make a name for herself as well.
The journey to the mainland from Newfoundland includes a trip either by flight or ferry, one of the reasons why hockey has taken Newhook off island to a few stops around the mainland of Canada.
"Growing up in Newfoundland, you have to fly anywhere to get away from the island (and) get some better competition," Newhook said. "I've been very fortunate to be in three great places already in living in St. Johns, Aurora (Ontario) and Victoria (British Columbia). Three great places, and I'm super happy with that."
Video: Newhook on family, journey prior to 2019 NHL Draft
While remote, Newfoundland has a big hockey following. The island currently hosts the Newfoundland Growlers, the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs who hoisted the Kelly Cup this year. Prior to the Growlers, the St. John's Icecaps and St. John's Maple Leafs brought the American Hockey League to the island.
Having local players drafted is always a big deal, but the first round is especially huge. When Newhook's name was announced at 16th overall in the opening round this year, he solidified his legacy as the first person drafted from Newfoundland since Daniel Cleary was drafted 13th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1997. Cleary went on to play for the Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings in his 19-year career. In 2008, he hoisted the Stanley Cup with Detroit, becoming the first player from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to win the Stanley Cup.
It makes sense that Cleary would be the idol of a young Alex Newhook. Born on the same island, Cleary left home at 15 years old to play hockey elsewhere and ended up a Stanley Cup champion. It's the dream of any young hockey player, and a parallel path to that of Newhook's.
"It means a lot, seeing guys from Newfoundland going on to play in the NHL and at that being a first rounder," Newhook said. "A guy like Danny Cleary in 1997, a guy that I watched growing up and dreamt of being like him when I grew up. To be in that class and that conversation, it's super cool and something I'm really proud of."
Video: Avalanche draft F Alex Newhook No. 16
Hockey has most recently taken Newhook all the way to the west coast of Canada, a whopping 4,153 miles from his family in St. John's, to play for the Victoria Grizzlies in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). While his supporters at home were far away in distance, the support Alex, and Abby, have received while playing away from where they grew up has been rampant.
"The support from Newfoundland that I get, not even just on draft day, is unbelievable," Newhook said. "On draft day, it was definitely overwhelming. Ever since I left home, the support from Newfoundland has been nothing but spectacular and they support me through everything I do."
The next step in the journey is Boston College, only 1,229 miles from home in St. John's. There, he will be joined by a fellow Avalanche prospect in Drew Helleson. It is also important that Abby will be only about 60 miles away from him.
She will be finishing up high school at Tabor Academy, which is located outside of Boston, while playing club hockey for the Bay State Breakers. Tabor Academy is a prep school for grades 10-12 and gives Abby the chance to excel on a girls-only hockey team as opposed to her exclusively male team, the St. John's Bantam AAA Hitmen, back home.
It's the closest the siblings will have lived to one another during the hockey season in the past five years. She has also committed to play at Boston College upon her high school graduation in 2021, yet another facet of the deep bond the brother-sister duo has. Paula and Shawn Newhook will be frequent visitors to the Boston area to see their dominant pair in action.
"Who knows what will happen, but it's really cool even for her to go to the same school that I go to," Newhook said. "It's something that is great for our family and something we will definitely cherish for a long time."
Video: Newhook on playing in BCHL, defining style of play
A Brett Hull Trophy winner as the top scorer in the BCHL last season, Newhook has already proven reliable on the offensive attack. He recorded 102 points (38 goals, 64 assists) to become the first Grizzlies player to reach 100 points in a season since 2006-07 when Tyler Bozak, a 2019 Stanley Cup champion, accomplished it. The speedy prospect is someone the Avalanche will turn to in a couple years, and one all hockey fans should be excited to watch.
After NCAA play in Chestnut Hill, Alex Newhook, with the support of Abby, his parents and the entire island he calls home, will look to bring his talents to the Avalanche and someday become the next player from the island to win the Stanley Cup and bring it back to Newfoundland.
Video: Newhook's hockey dreams have gone from coast to coast