A local hockey talent is embracing the latest stop on his so far rewarding path that’s taken him from minor hockey in 100 Mile House to junior hockey in Saskatchewan and into the competitive American collegiate system.
Reece Forman, 21, is playing on partial scholarship in North Dakota for the Minot State University Beavers, winners of the American Collegiate Hockey Association championship, a national title, in 2012-13.
Forman played for the Nipawin Hawks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League from 2013 to 2015.
In North Dakota, he’s studying criminal justice with the goal of becoming an RCMP officer one day. Forman received straight As in his first semester. The road trips throughout Saskatchewan were long indeed, but travel is even more extensive with the Beavers. Ice time is more competitive and school comes first. It’s a world where players have to worry about grades and homework, not just hockey. And Forman, speaking while back home in the Cariboo on Christmas holidays, really seems to be enjoying all aspects of his new life stateside.
“It’s definitely the most fun I’ve had probably in my life so far,” says the 6 foot 3 defenceman. “The hockey is really good. It’s like junior hockey, but a bit different of a style. And I’m really liking what I’m learning in criminal justice.”
The Beavers are just past the midway point in their 36 game season. Through 17 games, Forman has a goal differential of plus three. He’s tallied three goals, four assists and 26 penalty minutes.
At the Christmas break the Beavers were the No. 1 ranked team in the ACHA and had a team record of 19-0-1.
What’s different about hockey in the U.S. collegiate system is it’s less physical than junior hockey in Canada and there’s a little more skill on display, Forman explains.
“There’s a little more room on the ice and people get to show off what they’re capable of. In junior, it’s a little more hitting, a little more hard hockey. You have a little bit more room [in college hockey] so you have to make smart plays. You can’t turn the puck over.”
He’s asked about the travel involved and he has to chuckle a little. It’s quite long, he says. The team’s already had one flight to Arizona and they have another flight booked to Virginia. The rest of the time they’re on the bus. They just got back from Colorado (a 14-hour ride) and Nebraska (13 hours).
“But it’s cool. We get to see a lot of the States. A lot of places I never thought I’d be able to go.”
The Beavers have a large roster. There’s about 30 guys on it and the coach can only dress 20 or so each game. A lot of guys are sitting out every night. Forman, as a freshman, really has to fight for his spot in the lineup. He doesn’t seem to mind that at all either though. In fact, he’s pretty straightforward when he says: “You got to earn your spot. I like that.”