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This Prince George Cougars’ fan favourite is moving back home for university hockey

Joel Lakusta suiting up for 16-time national-champion Alberta Golden Bears

He caught the eye of many fans with his devastating good looks, his signature style, and a rocket wrister.

Now, after graduating from the Prince George Cougars this past season, Joel Lakusta will look to wow his hometown crowd the next four years as he commits to the University of Alberta.

The 21-year-old joins the 16-time national-champion Golden Bears after spending his entire Western Hockey League (WHL) career in the northern capital, which included a B.C. Division title in the 2016-17 season.

“It’s nice be playing so close to home finally and my family can come out and watch,” Lakusta said in a release, referring to the fact his home is 20 minutes away from the university campus. “It’s hard to turn down U of A when they called. It’s so close to home and it’s a program that is so good. Plus I know a lot of players on the roster, so it seemed like the right fit.”

In those 233 regular-season games, the defenceman compiled 17 goals and 86 points in a Prince George sweater, earning the team’s Best Defensive Player award in 2017-18, when he recorded a WHL career-high 42 points.

“Not many players spend their whole career with one team, but when they do, it shots that players character and leadership abilities,” said Golden Bears General Manager Stan Marple in a team release. “Joel has some offensive spark to his game, but is also a very reliable defender with good size.”

The Alberta Golden Bears have claimed 55 Canada West titles in school history, winning conference banners in all but three years since 2001.

Lakusta rounds out the three 2018-19 Cougars graduates to commit to university hockey in the fall; Josh Curtis to Queen’s and Mike MacLean to Concordia.

He'll also be joined by Cariboo Cougars' and northern B.C. hockey product Griffen Outhouse, who also committed to Alberta after backstopping the Victoria Royals the last four years.

Prince George begins training its new crop of players this Friday (Aug. 23), with the regular season beginning on home ice Sept. 20 against Vancouver.