So I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty jealous of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Scholarship Program. One free year of tuition and books for every year of hockey played with the league? Ya that sounds like a dream deal to me.
This past weekend 114 former CHL players competed on six teams in the culmination of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Men’s Hockey season, with the PotashCorp University Cup taking place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The final saw the University of Saskatchewan Huskies defeated by the University of Alberta Golden Bears, by a score of 3-1.
CHL alumni won six out of seven CIS awards, and composed 100% of the All-Canadian and All-Rookie Teams. Here are your top 9 standout CHL grads competing in the CIS! Interested in seeing more student athletes? Check out our Sports Babe of The Day – Campus Edition
9. Ken Peroff (Guelph Gryphons)
Of course I had to start with my own team captain! Ken Peroff, who is majoring in Geography, was named as a Second Team All-Canadian, after being named the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West Top Defenceman and OUA First Team All-Star. Peroff had eight goals and 21 assists this season, putting him in second for defenceman scoring in the OUA. Peroff also played four years with the Brampton Battalion, racking up 89 points.
8. Zach Harnden (Western Mustangs)
Zach Harden was named as First Team All-Canadian in his third year at Western as a Business student. He played four years with the Peterborough Petes before finishing up his OHL career with the Kingston Frontenacs, scoring 76 points over that time. The left-winger now puts up points for the Mustangs, with over 100 points so far and two years left of eligibility after being named the CIS Rookie of the Year in 2011-12.
7. Derek Hulak (Saskatchewan Huskies)
Derek Hulak seems to have an affinity for his hometown of Saskatoon, as a Saskatoon Blades alumni and current Saskatchewan Huskies left-winger. He also played 20 games for the Regina Pats before heading to the Blades and lighting it up, with over 258 points throughout his junior career. He is heading into his last year of eligibility with the Huskies and was named a First Team All-Canadian for the second time this season, first receiving the honour in the 2011-12 season. With 13 goals and 35 assists, Hulak’s 48 points were second highest in the CIS this season.
6. Jordan Rowley (Alberta Golden Bears)
Defenceman Jordan Rowley played six seasons in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and Prince Albert Raiders. His best season with the Raiders came in 2009-10, when he scored nine goals and added 41 assists. This season, his third with the University of Alberta, where he majors in Business, he assisted 22 times and scored eight goals on his way to becoming a First-Team All-Canadian.
5. Chris Culligan (UNB Varsity Reds)
Chris Culligan, in his final year of eligibility with UNB, was both a Second Team All-Canadian, and the recipient of the R.W. Pugh Award for the most sportsmanlike player. Majoring in Recreation in Sports Science, Culligan also played five seasons for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the QMJHL, scoring 284 points plus 49 points in the playoffs. He has won the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Don Wells Trophy as the Most Sportsmanlike Player twice and was also the Captain of the Varsity Reds for the second time this season. The centre is also the third all-time leading scorer for UNB, with 171 points over his five years with the school.
4. Kevin Bailie (Queen’s University Gaels)
In his first season of OUA competition, Kevin Bailie assumed the role of starting goaltender for the Gaels and was rewarded by the CIS with the Clare Drake Award for Rookie of The Year. The Gaels had the lowest number of goals against in the OUA, with only 57 allowed, which was ten goals less than any other team. This season was a huge improvement for Queen’s, seeing the Gaels in the CIS Top 10 for the first time in 30 years, and Bailie was a huge part of this success, recording 11 wins and two shutouts. He was second in the CIS with a .934 Save % and third in the CIS with a 1.98 GAA, which was good enough for a nomination for Goaltender of the Year. Bailie, who is now studying Arts and Science, previously played four seasons with the Oshawa Generals and the 2012-13 season with the London Knights, in which he posted his OHL career high numbers with a 2.50 GAA and 0.921 Save %.
3. Ryan McKiernan (McGill Redmen)
American defenceman Ryan McKiernan was named a First Team All-Canadian as well as the CIS Defenceman of the Year. He led all CIS defencemen with 37 points and earned points in 26.7 % of McGill’s goals this season. A Finance student, McKiernan previously played in the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, accumulating 56 points over three seasons. Despite being a defenceman, McKiernan was 14th in scoring for all CIS skaters this season, with four of his goals coming on the powerplay, one shorthanded, and one game-winner.
2. Jacob DeSerres (Calgary Golden Bears)
Although he played in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds and Brandon Wheat Kings, in the 2010-11 season DeSerres switched leagues and was a part of the Saint John Sea Dogs team that was the first team from Atlantic Canada to win the Memorial Cup. He also went to the Memorial Cup Final in 2009-10 with the Wheat Kings and in 2010-11, had the best GAA in the QMJHL, earning him the Jaques Plante Trophy. This season with the Golden Bears, DeSerres went 13-2-2 and was third in Canada West for both save percentage (.914) and goals against average (2.15). In his third year of an arts program, DeSerres allowed only 35 goals this season and posted three shutouts that were part of a 5-0-1 streak with a 0.67 GAA. This earned him the distinction of Canada West-WHL Graduate of the Month for November.
1. Liam Heelis (Acadia Axemen)
Earning the CIS top honour this season as the recipient of the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy as Player of the Year, Liam Heelis of Acadia University was a dominant offensive force for the Axemen. Heelis scored 24 goals in 26 games, also adding 18 assists for a total of 42 points, enough to lead the AUS in points and the CIS in goals. Four of these goals were short-handed (tied for first in the CIS), seven were on the powerplay (second in the CIS) and three were game-winners. Now a third-year Arts student, Heelis also played for the Peterborough Petes and was a part of the 2010-11 OHL Champion Owen Sound Attack team, scoring 20 goals and collecting 33 assists that season.
The CIS season is now finished, but the hard work is just beginning for these student athletes. I can attest to the fact that playing a sport through university while trying to maintain strong grades is not an easy task, and definitely adds stress to an already hectic lifestyle. With exams coming up, I’m definitely relieved that my season is over.
To anyone else out there finishing up final projects and studying for exams, good luck!