From Sioux Lookout to NCAA Division 1
Mike Esposito - Special to The Bulletin
Having a successful hockey career can look different in many ways. For Sioux Lookout native Brandon Stanley, that has meant being able to play in one of the most elite leagues in the hockey world. Stanley has spent the last four seasons honing his hockey skills for the Purple Eagles of Niagara University.
Niagara University is located in Lewiston, New York, just a stone’s throw away from the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Queenston (Niagara-On-The-Lake). The Purple Eagles play in the Atlantic Hockey Association, a NCAA Division 1 ice hockey conference. Playing at this level gives players two important things, a chance to play against some of the best talent in the world including top NHL level talent and the opportunity to prepare for what comes next after a hockey career.
Stanley’s hockey career started with the Sioux Lookout Minor Hockey Association. As he progressed, he took his talents to play AA hockey with the Dryden Paper Kings program. He did play one year for the high school Warriors. After a brief stint with the Dryden Ice Dogs, Stanley took his talents to the Manitoba Major Junior A hockey league. There were a couple of other stops before Stanley ultimately made the decision to play Division 1 hockey at Niagara University.
Over the past four seasons, Stanley has appeared in over 100 games dawning the purple and white. When asked to describe his role on the team, Stanley says he was, “playing on the power play and penalty kill lots at first and over time that changed to being more of an energy guy and bringing more of a physical presence to the game.”
For those unfamiliar with NCAA hockey, the crowds at most arenas get very large with rowdy student sections, which create some pretty memorable moments for all of the players involved.
Stanley notes that his favourite place to play was in North Dakota, “It was always a dream of mine to play hockey in that arena.” His most memorable moment being playing his first game against Minnesota and recording his first point. “I had many friends and family at the game, so it was a special moment that day”, says Stanley.
Academics was also an important part of why Stanley chose this path for his hockey career. A number of pro level teams from different leagues around the world expressed interest in his talents. However, Stanley thought the route of a student-athlete would best suit him and his future aspirations. “Academics is very important.” says Stanley. “You really have to be smart with time management and organization.”
As of now, Stanley is unsure of continuing his hockey career at a high level. “I want to come back home and get more involved in the community. I want to come back home and get into policing as that’s always been a lifelong dream.”
The official fundraising campaign hasn't even begun, yet another donation has already been received to help make an MRI unit a reality in Sioux Lookout...