The season for rookies Kyle Blaney and Nathan Bruyere have come to an end, along with veteran Drew Fielding. All three have their sights set on the next season as they prepare for summer camps.
Blaney’s Kalamazoo Wings forced the top seeded Toledo Walleye to a seventh game in the first round, but were unable to pull-off the upset. The dynamic rookie forward put up 21 points in 43 games while saving his best for the playoffs, where he added 4 assists in 7 games. Blaney’s grit and determination were on full display throughout the season and the playoffs. At the beginning of Game 7, he squared off at centre ice and fired up the team. He continued to lead by example by adding an assist in the second period, but the Wings ultimately fell 3-1 to lose the series.
Nathan Bruyere of the Pensacola Ice Flyers was also recently eliminated from the second round of the Southern Professional Hockey League playoffs. After undergoing shoulder surgery last year, Nathan demonstrated that he belongs at the pro level. The 6’4 smooth skating defenceman tallied 24 points in 42 games with the Ice Flyers, which earned him a spot on the all-rookie team.
From game winning goals in overtime to the shootout, Bruyere was heavily relied upon during his first season as a pro. He helped the Flyers pull off a first round upset before being knocked out by the Macon Mayhem, who went on to win the SPHL Championship. With a year of professional hockey under his belt, look for Bruyere to challenge for an ECHL roster spot next season.
Drew Fielding, goaltender with the Adirondack Flames, has finished his second season in the ECHL. Drew proved, yet again, to be a solid back-up assisting the Flames as well as the Reading Royals this season. The life of a backup goalie in the ECHL can be difficult, yet Drew’s professionalism and mental strength helped guide him to a 9-6-0 record with two shutouts. Drew’s steady play earned him an all-star nod as the ECHL stars took on the Adirondack Thunder.
All three players showed they can be a force at the pro level when given the opportunity. They will all take some time off before they begin training and getting ready for the 2017-2018 campaign.