It’s a long way from Maple Ridge, B.C., to St. Cloud, Minnesota, but for Tim Daly, there’s always something to remind him of home.
The former Langley Chief and Ridge Meadows Flame is in his sophomore season with the St. Cloud State University’s NCAA Division I Huskies hockey team.
Daly grew up a two-minute walk from Planet Ice Maple Ridge, and graduated from Samuel Robertson Technical Secondary School.
But the local blueliner need only look to his teammates should he get homesick.
The Huskies have a distinct B.C. flavour with four players – Garrett Milan, David Morley, Joey Holka, and Daly – all having played in the B.C. Hockey League.
And as Daly has found out, the move up from Junior A to the NCAA can be a difficult transition.
“It’s a lot different. It’s quite a step up in the caliber of players and the quality of play,” he says. “Everything is so much quicker, guys are bigger and stronger.
“It’s a lot different from junior A, that’s for sure.”
Daly admittedly struggled in his first season with Huskies, and received little ice time as a freshman blueliner. In 32 games last season, Daly managed just two assists.
But university is a place for learning, and university hockey is no different.
A year older and wiser, Daly is getting more ice time and he’s making the most of it. In eight games this season, Daly already has two goals in the typically low-scoring NCAA.
“I definitely felt a lot more confident coming into this year,” he says.
Daly’s goals for this season are simple, make the most of his minutes, and work his way up the roster.
Maple Ridge defenceman Brad Hunt, who spent his college career with Minnesota’s Bemidji State University and is now with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, has helped provide Daly with guidance during his transition into the NCAA.
“I’ve known him for years and we train in the off-season together,” says Daly. “The biggest thing he told me, was not to take anything for granted. You have to work so hard for your ice time, nothing is given to you.”
The Huskies are 5-3 overall this season, with a 3-1 record in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play.
“We have a good team with some good seniors,” he says. “We’d love to get a national championship.”
While the pace of play and tight defensive style may have taken some getting used to, the hockey-mad atmosphere in Minnesota is just like home.
“It’s a lot like Canada,” he says. “The fans are unreal. Pretty much everybody watches hockey here.”