Warriors Alumni Year in Review April 16th, 2014 Written by: former Warriors Tyler Krause and Joel Woznikoski
For the Warriors Alumni it was a year of firsts, finales and everything in between. The Warriors themselves had an outstanding 2013/2014 regular season, with a number of individuals joining the alumni ranks after exceptional junior hockey careers. Some will move on to join the numerous Warriors who have been blessed to continue hockey on scholarships throughout North America, at some of the most highly regarded institutes in both academics and athletics. Ancient Warrior players are now finding themselves in unfamiliar life scenarios as graduation from collegiate hockey is sending them into the work force.
Certain players have made the choice to bring home the bacon as professional hockey players, while others are pursuing careers in accounting, coaching, banking, the oil fields and firefighting, just to name a few. The ultimate goal became a reality for a couple more Warriors Alumni this season, as the National Hockey League came calling for Colton Sissons (Nashville) and Nathan Lieuwen (Buffalo). They battled with the best and joined the ranks alongside the now NHL regular, Justin Schultz (Edmonton). The Warriors Alumni itself as whole also became a reality over the past year. Through its creation it has connected past players, given back to the community of West Kelowna, hosted the first annual Alumni Weekend with Tim Horton’s and has supported current and future collegiate players with the new Alumni Scholarship.
The world of college and university hockey saw an abundance of Warriors Alumni make an impact this season for their respective teams:
Freshman Max French jumped right into action with the Bentley Falcons (NCAA Div. 1) and became a go-to player in only his first year. “Frenchy” amassed 23 points during the season and was awarded the Atlantic Hockey’s Rookie of the Month for October, to add to an already impressive rookie campaign.
Junior Alex Grieve, also at Bentley University, was nominated for the Hobey Baker award after collecting 25 goals and 47 points with the Falcons. He was named assistant captain and skated alongside former Warriors Max French, Matt Maher and Tyler Krause. “Griever” continues to be an offensive threat and leader in the community. Alex was awarded the Atlantic Hockey’s Player of the Month for November and also made the Second All-Star Team for Atlantic Hockey.
University of Calgary Dino’s Head Coach Mark Howell was recognized for the 2nd time as Canada West’s Coach of the year for 2014, after leading the Dino’s to their best record since 1997 at 21-4-3. “Howey” who was also named the Canada West CIS Coach of the Year in 2011, along with the National award for the entire CIS, added to an impressive resume.
Tyler French and Jordan Wood of the NAIT Ooks looked to win back-to-back ACAC championships but found themselves playing the bridesmaid to the SAIT Trojans, the team they defeated in 2013. They finished the regular season in first place but could not replicate another heated series vs. Tyler’s former team the SAIT Trojans.
Grayson Downing of the University of New Hampshire was invited to attend the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Summer Prospect Camp. Over the past three seasons with the Wildcats “Downs” has earned 76 points, while continuing to hone his slick skills and dangerous shot. The wildcats lost in the finals of the Hockey East championship but maintained a ranking high enough to earn themselves a spot in the national tournament.
Marcus Basara and Shaun Hochhausen of the University of Alaska Fairbanks made their freshman debuts this season and both became key impact players. They joined Senior Michael Quinn in his final year with the Nanooks. “Hawk” continued to be a strong defensive presence and added 12 points along the way, while Marcus once again found his way to the net, contributing 26 points.
Other Warrior Alumni who posted successful freshmen debuts at the college level include Brett McKinnon (Holy Cross), Brayden Sherbinin (Quinnipiac), Garret Skrbich (Princeton), Josh Monk (Providence) and Mitch Nardi (Lake Superior State).
When it came to the professional ranks over the past season, Warriors Alumni dazzled fans all over the globe:
In his 2nd professional season, Brad Plumton joined the Cardiff Devils of the EIHL (UK) and brought his fists back out! After keeping his temper in check during his time with the SAIT Trojans (ACAC), “Plummer” amassed 22 points and racked up 269 PIM defending his teammates, during a 59 game season. Brad spent his first pro season last year with Borlänge HF in Division 1 Sweden.
Spencer Humphries also made the jump to the pro ranks and joined HC Lev Praha of the KHL (Russia) based out of Prague, Czech Republic. “Humps” brought in his intense defensive efforts to help solidify the Praha’s back end.
Alex Gellert a graduate of the University of Anchorage/ Alaska and Marcello Ranallo from the University of Connecticut, found themselves in their first pro seasons with Milan Rossoblu of the Italy A league. These former Warriors who never had the opportunity to dawn the shield together quickly made an impact as a duo in Italy after successful collegiate careers.
Kevin Walrod continued his climb on the professional hockey ladder in North America after four years with the Michigan State Spartans. Starting the season with the Bloomington Thunder of the SPHL, where “Wally” had over a point per game average, he was called up by the Reading Royals of the ECHL.
Clinton Pettapiece found himself in the Netherlands playing professionally for the Dordrecht Lions. He made the jump after spending two years with the SAIT Trojans, where he reunited with numerous Warriors Alumni including Craig Eisenhut and Joel Woznikoski. “Petter” lead ACAC scoring for the 2011/2012 season and continues to use his natural gift as a go-to player for the lions.
Numerous Warriors Alumni have also found themselves using their acquired skills, work ethic and leadership to move on from hockey and into the workforce.
During his four seasons with the SAIT Trojan’s Garrett Watson earned an ACAC Gold Medal and two-second place finishes. The hulking forward earned the Captain’s “C” on his jersey during his final season through his unprecedented leadership. “Watty” who currently resides in Calgary, is now working as an accountant and preparing for his CPA examination.
David Arduin’s experience at SUNY-Geneseo, where he amassed 64 points over three seasons, built a strong bond with both the school and community. “Ardy” was offered the position as an Assistant Coach after his senior season with the Knights and joined the coaching staff during the 2012/2013 season. Warriors Alumni Tyler Brickler is also continuing to be an offensive threat under David at SUNY-Geneseo.
The Air Force Academy saw Stephen Caple develop into an outstanding starting goaltender for a team that was consistently at the top of its conference. “Capes” spent four seasons, from 2008- 2012, with the Academy and now serves in the United States Air Force, based in Alaska.
The Warriors first ever Captain, MarcelBruinsma, now has a family of four and lives in Abbotsford, BC. Married to his wife Melaine, with daughter and son, Madison and Gavin, “Bruiny/Goony” has taken over the family tree business, Bruinsma Tree Service. Prior to taking over the family business Marcel spent 5 years playing professionally in Europe. Brunisma Tree Service can be found online at: http://www.bruinsmatreeservice.ca/
Trevor Bailey has continued to shine on the ice and is also pursuing a career on the oil patch. “Bails” joined the St. Walburg Eagles, a Senior Men’s team in 2012, following his time with the SAIT Trojans. This past season Trevor accumulated 26 goals and 55 points in 24 games played. Off the ice Trevor brings his work ethic to the oil fields outside of Loydmister, Alberta.
Four years ago they walked onto their respective campuses as young freshmen and in what they would describe as “a blink of an eye”, these Warriors Alumni will be graduating university/college. Some will choose to continue their pursuit by joining the professional ranks, while others will take the other path and take their diploma into the workforce.
Two-way defensemen Brendan Ellis of the Merrimack Warriors graduated this season. Upon the ending of his collegiate season “Elly” supplied his services to both the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. During his time played alongside other Warrior Alumni Kyle Singleton, Quinn Gould and Matt Cronin. After four years at Merrimack, where Brendan amassed 58 points, he has officially moved on to the professional ranks.
Michael Quinn totalled 58 points during his time with Alaska Fairbanks over four seasons. “Quinner” attended the Washington Capitals Prospect Camp after his sophomore season and the Vancouver Canucks Prospects Camp after his junior year. Michael enters this summer, after his senior year, as a free agent exploring pro hockey opportunities.
Cory Pritz spent five years at the University of Calgary under former Warriors Head Coach Mark Howell. In 2011 “Pritzy” lead all of Canada West in scoring by a defencemen, where he took home First Team Canda West All Star Award. Continuing to improve his offensive output, Cory scored 21 points in 27 games with the Dinos during the 2013/2014 season.
I think it’s safe to safe that every young hockey player growing up has the dream of one day playing in the NHL, and for a few special Warriors Alumni, this dream became a reality during the 2013-2014 season.
Colton Sissons and Nathan Lieuwen found themselves both living out this childhood dream with the Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabers respectively. Both players moved on from the Warriors to have solid careers in the WHL, where they were drafted to the NHL in the 2nd and 6th rounds. “Sissor” assisted on a goal during his NHL debut, while “Lieuwy” made 23 saves in his debut.
Justin Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers continues to amaze and astonish in the hockey world. “Schultzy” has 32 points in 72 games during his 2nd season and has developed into one of the anchors on the Oilers blue line. Justin continues to play a massive part in the West Kelowna community, by giving back to the Warriors and Minor Hockey association on a consistent basis. Former Warrior Ben Betker also became a part of Justin’s Edmonton Oilers as he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Teaming up with Tim Hortons and numerous other sponsors the Warriors and the Alumni hosted their 1st Annual Warriors Alumni Weekend from June 1st to 3rd, 2013. The weekend was a great success. Many familiar Warriors Alumni faces found themselves lacing up the blades once again at Royal LePage Place for the Alumni Hockey Game, then moving over to Two Eagles Golf Club for the Texas Scramble Golf Tournament. The Warriors and the Alumni raised over $6,000.00 for local causes through the weekend, including the West Kelowna Community Food Bank, West Kelowna Minor Hockey, West Kelowna Kid Sport and the Warriors Alumni Fund. Through the Alumni Fund two $500.00 scholarships were awarded, one to a graduating West Kelowna Warrior and one to a graduated Warrior attending post-secondary education. The 2014 Warriors Alumni & Tim Hortons Scholarship winner’s were Junior Alex Grieve from the Bentley Falcons (NCAA Division 1) and graduating Warrior Adam Plant set to play for the Harvard Crimson (NCAA Division 1).
As members of the Warriors Alumni continue to travel on different paths of life, one thing will always remain amongst them, the Warriors bond. Each and every alumni continues to be grateful for what the organization, community and inherent friendships have taught them and helped them blossom from boys to men.