Akito Hirose skates the puck up the ice during a Sept. 7 game against Merritt. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Silverbacks defenceman Akito Hirose signs to Minnesota State NCAA team

News comes in advance of back-to-back games this weekend

The Silverbacks’ superstar defenceman Akito Hirose has committed to join the Minnesota State – Mankato NCAA hockey program.

In two seasons with the BCHL, Hirose skated in 99 games and recorded 42 points, making a name for himself as a formidable two-way defenceman who can put points on the board. He stayed true to that reputation in the Silverbacks’ recent home opener, with a goal and assist to spark the comeback against Merritt.

“The coaching staff and I are ecstatic with the news that Akito Hirose has accepted a full-ride scholarship to Minnesota State University – Mankato,” says Silverbacks GM and Head Coach Scott Atkinson. “Akito is a highly skilled player with an exceptional hockey IQ and Mankato has an outstanding program, so I think it’s a great fit for both sides. I couldn’t be happier.”

“My years with the Silverbacks Organization have helped me grow as a player and a person. I chose Mankato over other programs because of the coaching staff and the trust they built with me,” Hirose says. “I also know I can learn a lot from all the coaches, but especially coach Hastings.

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with one of the best coaches in college hockey.

The Mankato program has a strong winning culture that puts emphasis on building relationships. Once you become part of the program you’re a Maverick for life.”

The Silverbacks kicked the 2018-19 season off on a strong note, dropping the Merritt Centennials 4-2 in a home-opener at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm.

This weekend, Hirose and his teammates take on the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Friday night followed by a rematch Saturday in Salmon Arm against the Merritt Centennials.

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