Brendan Budy took over as captain of the Langley Rivermen in his second season with the team, and is committed to playing hockey for the University of Denver. (Rivermen photo/Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley Rivermen contribute to strong year for the league

Numerous players are committed to playing college level, while others are signed to play pro.

This past season will go down as one of the best ever for the BC Hockey League and not just because of the league’s success game-to-game the ice.

Players committed in record numbers to college hockey, including a number from the Langley Rivermen.

There are currently 153 players committed to programs in Canada and the United States for coming seasons.

The BCHL set a new record, and is likely not done yet, with players from the past season committed to college hockey programs, said BCHL communications officer Brent Mutis.

In Langley, that will see Rivermen players going to the following colleges or universities to play for the upcoming 2018-19 season: Angus Crookshank going to New Hampshire University, Colin Bernard committed to Sacred Heart College in Petersborough, Spencer Berry to Rochester Institute of Technology, Eric Butte to Army West Point Academy in New York, Derek Hamelin to Canisius in Buffalo, Ethan Leyh to University of Wisconsin, Conner Marshall from Brown University in Providence, Trevor St. Jean to Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and John Wojciechowski to Connecticut College.

Brendan Budy, who was the Rivermen’s captain for the past season, will be playing at the University of Denver for the following, 2019-20 season.

And the good news goes beyond just the upcoming college play, to a number of locals being represented in the pro ranks in the coming year.

Former Langley player, Mitch McLain – who more recently served as captain for the NCAA Div. 1 Bowling Green State University Falcons, has been signed to a professional contract with the American Hockey League’s Iowa Wild, a Minnesota Wild affiliate. He’s also one of 58 BCHL alumuni attending a NHL development camp this summer.

Likewise, former Langley Riverman Matt Ustaski, who’s been playing and studying at the University of Wisconsin, has been signed to a mid-level professional ice hockey league in New Jersey, call the Jasksonville IceMen, a Winnipeg Jets affiliate.

As well, former Rivermen Chris Forney, who’s been playing for the University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks, has signed with the AHL San Diego Gulls, an Anaheim Ducks affiliate.

And rounding out the good news being touted by the BCHL, McLain wasn’t the only former Rivermen serving as an NCAA Div. 1 captain this year. He’s joined by Kevan Kilistoff, who played for Dartmouth Colleged in New Hampshire, and James Robinson wore the “C” for Pennsylvania State University’s Nittany Lions.

There are 14 BCHL franchises represented across 22 NHL teams this past year, with former Langley Chief (2007-09) Derek Grant, now 28, signed an unrestricted free agent under contract with the Anaheim Ducks in the National Hockey League (NHL) in 2017 and just finished his first season as centre.

The left-handed shooter from Abbotsford started off with his hometown Abbotsford Pilots, spent two seasons in Langley, two seasons at Michigan State University, followed by several seasons between the Binghamton and Ottawa Senators, before moving to the Stockton Heat, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators, Rochester Americans, and most recently the Anaheim Ducks.

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