A pair of Kimberley Dynamiters are set to continue their hockey careers at the American college level next season and will help get a brand-new program off the ground in the process.
Goaltender Tyson Brouwer and forward Eric Buckley committed to the upstart University of Jamestown Jimmies hockey program Monday.
“Coming into your overage year is always a little bittersweet not knowing where you will end up,” Brouwer said Wednesday. “It’s a big weight off my shoulders.
“I think Jamestown will be a good fit for myself and Eric. He will be a top forward there and I’ll be a freshman starter, so we’re both very excited and able to focus on defending and reclaiming another [KIJHL] championship.”
The University of Jamestown hockey program is in the process of being built by Pentiction native Dean Stork, who was named the head coach and general manager of the prospective American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division 1 team back in August.
The University of Jamestown will apply to compete in ACHA Div. 1 beginning with the 2016-17 season, meaning Brouwer and Buckley will be part of the squad to get the program off the ground.
“It’s been a goal of mine for quite some time to play college hockey,” Buckley said Wednesday. “So you could say I’m a little excited.”
Brouwer and Buckley have been instrumental to the success of the Dynamiters over the past two seasons in particular, leaving no doubt they will serve as key pieces for Stork and the Jimmies as they look to establish a winning culture in North Dakota.
“There are tons of opportunities, you just have to get your players names out there and be an advocate for them,” said Mike Reid, general manager of the Kimberley Dynamiters. “Obviously they have to stand on their own two feet with their play, but that’s our goal.
“It’s a realistic goal for a lot of players in our organization…The fact you get to go to school, get money towards your education and play hockey is a win-win situation for everybody involved.
“We’re happy for [Tyson and Eric]. They put the work in. They deserve it.”
Brouwer is looking forward to the opportunity to study kinesiology, while Buckley intends on studying computer sciences.
Brouwer, a 20-year-old native of Lethbridge, Alta., was named the Nitros Playoff MVP after helping backstop his club to the 2015 KIJHL championship, going 16-4 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.
Through 12 games in 2015-16, the 5-foot-11, 172-pound netminder leads the KIJHL in wins (12) and shutouts (four), packing a record of 10-2-0 along with a 1.41 GAA and .950 SP.
Buckley, a 20-year-old native of Penticton, has established a penchant as a pest throughout the KIJHL’s Eddie Mountain Division. His blend of skill and agitation made him a key cog for the Dynamiters in the 2015 post-season, where he registered six goals and 10 points in 22 games.
Through 17 games this season, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound winger is in the KIJHL’s top-five in scoring, having collected eight goals and 27 points.
With a little more certainty in their futures, both on and off the ice, Brouwer and Buckley will now turn their complete focus to helping the Dynamiters defend their KIJHL title.
The Nitros are first in the KIJHL as of Oct. 28, having surged to a 14-1-0-2 start, thanks largely in part to the play of Brouwer and Buckley.
The University of Jamestown is located in Jamestown, North Dakota.
The ACHA was established in 1991 and provides an alternate option to the NCAA for players wishing to play college hockey.