By Arielle Gordon | Photo by Patil Khakhamian
The 2019-2020 Colorado College hockey season ended on a bus to the NCHC tournament. At that moment, five seniors saw their college hockey careers end. However, with hopes for the 2020-2021 season to remain on schedule, the incoming Tigers are still preparing for their debuts.
Chris Wilkie ’20 was drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2015 and then was traded to the Ottawa Senators in October. His college eligibility has ended, so he may begin an NHL career. Nick Halloran ’20 signed a contract with the Ontario Reign (AHL affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings). The four other seniors, along with two graduate transfers, do not have any remaining eligibility. Jon Flakne, formerly ’21, is graduating a year early, and three players with remaining eligibility have entered the NCAA transfer portal and may not return to CC this fall. In total, the Tigers could be looking to replace 10 roster spots.
With graduate transfer Ryan Ruck (formerly ’21) and Flakne leaving, CC only has one goalie – Matt Vernon ’23 – on the roster right now. But two more are scheduled to join the team this coming season.
Jake Begley, one of the new recruits, saw his final juniors season end early as well when the Brockville Braves won their first, and only, playoff game. In 43 games played, Begley recorded two shutouts and saved 1187 of the 1294 shots he faced.
“I want to play a few games and give the team a chance to win,” Begley said. “I just kind of want to earn the respect of the older guys and trust of them and the coaches.”
Dominic Basse, another recruit, was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2019 and spent last season playing with a junior team, the Youngstown Phantoms, where he played in 37 games and saved 88.7% of the shots he faced.
“Everyone’s going to be older, bigger, and stronger,” Begley said. “So you have to get used to that and be fully prepared that you might struggle a bit especially in the practices leading up to the season. The coaches were saying you have to be able to adjust quickly and get used to harder shots and the speed of the game.”
Over the next few years, CC will have 19 players join the team after playing in the USHL, the top-level juniors league in the country. Two players from the USHL team Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Jackson Jutting and Jack Millar have announced their plans to play for CC in the fall.
Other players who intend to join the Tigers this fall include Hunter McKown, who has been with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, and Jordan Biro, who spent the last three years in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Mr. Hockey award finalist Matthew Gleason will come to CC sometime soon, along with Wilkie’s younger brother Coltan Wilkie.
The Tigers are scheduled to open the 2020-2021 season at home at the Broadmoor World Arena against the University of Maine on Oct. 9.