The South Carolina Stingrays play in the East Coast Hockey League.

MacLeod hopes to spend winter in the sunshine

Nelson Minor Hockey grad gets prepared to start ECHL journey next week.

The Elmira Jackals, Toledo Walleye, Florida Everblades and Greenville Road Warriors are likely hockey teams you’ve never heard of, but by the end of the season might be part of the local sports vernacular.

Next week, Nelson Minor Hockey grad Alex MacLeod will take the next step in his career when he hits the training camp ice for the East Coast Hockey League’s (ECHL) South Carolina Stingrays.

“It’s going to be an eye-opening experience, but I’m excited about it,” MacLeod told the Star last week.

Last spring MacLeod completed his four-year NCAA journey when he played his final game with the Michigan Tech Huskies. Once his amateur status was finished, he was contacted by the Stingrays who had seen the rugged winger in action. The ECHL team wanted him to bolt down to North Charleston, South Carolina for the remainder of the season, but MacLeod had to pass.

“I told them I would love to come, but I was worried that I wouldn’t pass all my classes with time left in school,” said MacLeod.

MacLeod stayed in Houghton, Michigan to complete his degree in mechanical engineering, hoping the offer would still stand for the 2012-13 season. It was the right choice as the Stingrays continued to call. In June he agreed to commit to the team and signed a contract.

After a summer of training and working in Edmonton, MacLeod left for the southern States in early September. Last week he returned to Houghton for more training and is now on his way to South Carolina. Training camp starts October 1.

“There is definitely an opportunity if you make it for yourself,” he said. “It’s the next step after college hockey, I’m pretty excited about it.”

Though optimistic, there are no guarantees. MacLeod has signed a contract that goes week to week. He first must make the team and then has to stick. Until he establishes himself, he can be released at any time.

“When you get there, you have to find a place on the team,” said MacLeod. “I have to find my role and play really well so that I stick and move up the line-up.”

At 6’0” and 215 pounds, the power forward expects his role to be similar to what got him to this point in his hockey career. In Junior A with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL and the Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL, MacLeod scored when needed and delivered grit every shift. His career totals at Michigan Tech saw him score 23 goals and add 19 assists in 144 games.

Regardless of how it works out, MacLeod is happy to at least have a shot at the professional ranks.

“Obviously my goal is to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), but at the same time I have a degree,” he said. “I have that to fall back on, but right now I want to give it all I can see where the hockey world takes me.”

The ECHL is a development league with teams playing in smaller cities throughout the United States (the closest to Nelson being the Idaho Steelheads in Boise). It is a feeder for the American Hockey League (AHL) and in turn the NHL. The Stingrays are affiliated with the Providence Bruins of the AHL and the Boston Bruins of the NHL. Though some Stingrays players are on contract with the Bruins, MacLeod is not. Based on his play, MacLeod could be

signed on by any team in the AHL over the course of the season.

This season could be a little more challenging for players like MacLeod because of the NHL lockout. Many of the teams are sending players to the AHL that are on two-way contracts and in turn those teams will send down more players to the ECHL.

“It’s pretty complicated and it depends on the team,” said MacLeod. “It creates a little bit more traffic, so I’m guessing there might be a few more guys playing in the ECHL on an NHL contract. It’s a small increase, but not dramatic.”

The Stingrays play in the ECHL’s South Conference which would have him tromping around the American south all winter. If he sticks, the sunshine will be a huge change from his winters spent in the Kootenays, Camrose and Houghton.

“It’s going to definitely be a change of scenery,” he said. “I have spent my winters in Nelson, Alberta and Michigan… I have seen plenty of cold and snow. It’s going to be interesting to go to practice and then leave in December when it’s sunny out and you can go golf. I’m looking forward to the experience for sure.”

The Stingrays open the ECHL regular season at the Charleston Coliseum against the Gwinnet Gladiators on October 13.

 

Just Posted

South Slocan woman killed in Friday crash

Police continue to investigate cause of fatal crash

Ammonia leak shuts down Nelson Curling Club

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Four points for Fawcett as Leafs win 7th straight

Nelson edged the Fernie Ghostriders 4-3

What’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Seven Nelson rec projects granted Columbia Basin Trust funding

Nelson’s baseball and tennis clubs were the big winners

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

East Kootenay mine deaths prompt safety initiatives

Teck produces educational video, introduces new procedures after contractor drowns at Fording River

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Bashful Balladeers bring voices to Vernon

Despite hiding behind masks, talent shines with this group

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Most Read