A lasting impression back in March has led to a starring role this season.
Facing Bo Didur in the playoffs last season gave Bobby Henderson plenty to think about this past off-season.
“They (Surrey) gave us a pretty good scare in the first round and I think he really gave them a chance in that series,” said Henderson, the head coach and general manager of the Langley Rivermen.
“And to me, it was just really impressive that he did that as a 16-year-old.”
The Rivermen prevailed in the series four games to two.
Armed with that first-hand experience, Henderson approached the Eagles about trading for Didur.
There were no expectations heading into training camp.
“We didn’t have anything set in stone,” Henderson said.
“We obviously knew he had the ability to do it, but as a young goaltender, you are never sure what is going to happen.”
The season began with Didur and Darren Martin splitting the first four games. Martin would get hurt in the third period of the fifth game, and Didur seized the opportunity and has run with it.
The 17-year-old — he turns 18 in April — is top four in the league in both goals against average (2.59) and save percentage (.922). Both numbers are significantly higher than his rookie season where he went 7-15 with a 4.20 GAA and a .872 save percentage.
Didur is 16-11 this season.
“He has been phenomenal for us,” Henderson said. “He certainly raised the bar and raised our expectations of him as well.”
And along the way, Didur is turning a few more heads as well.
In December, he was invited to training camp for the Canada West squad which was preparing for the World Junior A Challenge. He played well, but did not stick on the final roster. And last week, Didur was invited to play in a prospects game for the top junior A hockey players from across Canada.
“It is pretty exciting to see your name on a sheet like that with a bunch of other really good players,” Didur admitted.
He was also quick to point out none of his individual success would be possible without the players in front of him.
“Hats off to the guys that I play with,” he said. “Without the way they have been playing lately, I wouldn’t have been invited.
“They make me look good and sure enough, I get credit for it, but it is all those guys.”
Joining a division rival can always be awkward, but Didur figures he left a pretty positive impression last season.
But heading into his second BCHL season, he had no preconceived goals.
“As a younger player, you just want to come in and get all the minutes you can,” he explained.
And while it was tough to see a friend and teammate injured, Didur knew it was a great chance to establish himself.
“You never want to see (someone get hurt), but on the playing side, it gives you an opportunity to gain some confidence, knowing that you are the guy,” he said.
“Bo has great athletic ability, is very sound technically, and is super competitive,” Henderson said.
“For me, the biggest thing is his compete level. He hates to lose and is pissed off when he is scored against.
“Those are all good characteristics to have as a good goaltender.”
Didur doesn’t disagree with his coach’s description.
“I would definitely classify myself as a fighter,” he said. “Obviously, no one likes to lose, I take that personally.”
As for long-term goals, Didur is hoping to land a NCAA Division 1 scholarship. He is currently in Grade 12 at Langley Secondary.
But the more immediate goal is finishing up strong with the Rivermen.
With a dozen games remaining in the regular season, Langley has already secured a post-season berth, but finds themselves in a dog fight with the Chilliwack Chiefs for top spot in the Mainland Division (see story below).