For every successful hockey player, the road to professional hockey is filled with twists and turns. Nathan Bruyere knows this having faced a great deal of adversity during the past sixteen months, before signing with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).

Nathan reigns from Eagle Lake First Nation community approximately 20km from Dryden, Ontario. Growing up Nathan had unlimited access to the community arena, as well as the support from many individuals, to which he credits his hockey success. After a strong junior hockey career Nathan joined the Lakehead Thunderbirds of the CIS. He was a dominant force on the Thunderbirds defence for two seasons before he committed to pursuing his professional hockey aspirations.

Many teams showed interest in acquiring Nathan, a talented 6’4”, 235lbs defenceman that moved incredibly well. He opted to sign with Rapid City of the ECHL where he was set to attend rookie camp. Unfortunately, during Nathan’s physical, a torn labarum was found in his shoulder.

It was likely an injury Nathan had been playing through for some time. With the strict insurance guidelines set out in the United States, it would be difficult for Nathan to pursue his dream until he underwent surgery. With his long-term health and career in mind, Nathan opted to mend his shoulder issues, missing the 2015-2016 season.

When the 2016-2017 season began, interest once again flooded in for the poised, smooth-skating defenceman. Nathan signed with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. Unfortunately, Nathan was one month short of the mandated six-month recovery time and was not cleared for contact by team doctors. The news was a devastating blow for Nathan who was keen to show the professional hockey world his skill set. He returned home and continued his rehab until the Ice Flyers presented an opportunity for Nathan to finally make his long awaited professional debut.

Since signing, Nathan has suited up in 13 games with Pensacola. He has amassed a goal and four assists in that time. After a long layoff he is beginning to demonstrate that he can be a force at the SPHL level. Nathan credits his family and friends, who have provided tremendous support and guidance while he overcame each challenge that presented itself.

As Nathan begins to thrive at the SPHL level, he is reinvigorated to train on and off the ice and reach his full potential. With his size, skill and hockey sense, it will not be long before he reaches the next level. Until then, friends and family back home continue to cheer him on while keeping a close eye on his progress.