Among many college students searching for a beginning to their career right after graduation, seven former Bulldogs found themselves faced with an decision which seemed easy for each to make: “Should I live out my ultimate dream of being paid to play hockey for a living?”
Ask any player from last season’s 2011-12 championship and national runner-up squad if they felt like they had experienced the greatest moment in their life during last season’s run to the national championship game. The likely answer will be yes. A resounding yes would follow if asked if they’d like to experience that feeling once more.
What seven of last season’s Bulldogs chose to do will ultimately give them a chance to relive that experience felt during last season. They will be able to hold on to that feeling for the rest of their lives because now they will be making a living playing the sport they are passionate about.
“It’s like a dream come true to play hockey and do something that I love as a profession,” former Bulldog defenseman Chad Billins said.
Each of the seven former senior Bulldogs from last season’s team will take the ice this year, each signed with a different professional team either in the American Hockey League, Central Hockey League or in another country. But all have fostered a new appreciation for the sport.
“It’s a little different than college. College seems to be a lot more back and forth. There are plenty of playmakers in college, but it’s just different. Guys are a little more patient and there’s a lot of guys who can make big time plays,” former Bulldog netminder Taylor Nelson said.
For these former Bulldogs, the culmination of their careers thus far has only built up to the point where they are now: just entering the world of professional hockey.
“When you think about playing hockey, you want to play professionally. And the fact that we’ve been given a chance to do that shows that people have noticed the hard work we put in,” Nelson said.
Nelson looks forward to seeing his fellow alumni in the AHL, but he plans on making sure they don’t get anything by him.