by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Catching up with former Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) men's hockey stars who have taken their game to the next level, we will find many ACAC alumni lacing up in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).
MacEwan University Griffins' Tyler Palmer (2012-2014)
Palmer unpacked-and-packed for three teams last year with stop overs for the Knoxville Ice Bears, Greenville Swamp Rabbits and Fayetteville FireAntz. Palmer, 24, remains in Fayetteville, North Carolina but the franchise has changed their moniker to Marksmen. The 6-foot-3 defenseman is the alternate captain for the Marksmen.
Former Griffins' netminder Shannon Szabados (2007-2011)
Szabados played in the SPHL from 2013-2017 for the Columbus Cottonmouths and Peoria Riverman. December 27, 2015, Szabados became the first woman to record a shutout in a men's professional hockey league, in a 33-save, 3–0 win for the Cottonmouths over the Huntsville Havoc. Szabados also played for the ACAC Ooks 2011-2013.
NAIT Ooks alumnus Chris Lijdsman (2012-2014)
Lijdsman was part of the Ooks perfect season (36-0) in 2015-2016. In fact, he scored a goal in the 3-2 championship final against the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings. He currently calls Pensacola, Florida home while skating for the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
|Jordan Abt, Guildford Flames|
Others who wore Ooks colours and are now on the semi-pro scene, include Jordan Abt (2012-2014), John Dunbar (2014-2016) and Jordan Draper (2011-2013).
After two seasons with the ECHL Norfolk Admirals, Abt is now on the roster of the Guildford Flames out of United Kingdom's Elite Ice Hockey League. Joining Abt on the Flames is Dunbar, the 2015-2016 ACAC Men's Hockey Player of the Year. He has continued with his high-scoring ways. As of this writing, he has 8 goals and 33 assists in 30 games. Last year for the Flames he had 22 goals and 59 assists in 55 appearances. Dunbar also lead the ACAC in scoring during his two years in Edmonton, with 28 goals and 37 assists for 65 Ooks points in 2014-2015 and 26 goals and 21 assists for 57 points in 2015-2016. He played the entire ACAC 32-game regular season schedule both seasons. The Flames feature several University of Alberta Golden Bears graduates. The team also includes a 2008 NHL Entry Draft pick, as Chris Carrozzi was selected Round 6 #154 by the Atlanta Thrashers. Draper, a 2012-2013 ACAC First Team All-Conference, has called France home the last three years. Following cups of coffee with Strasbourg and Nice, the 29 year-old left wing now resides in Mulhouse, playing for the Scorpions.
Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder's Chase Fallis (2013-2014)
Falls enters year No. 2 for the Carolina Thunderbirds of the Federal Hockey League. Of his return, said in an interview: "I'm excited to be back in Winston. I love playing here and the support we get from the fans is amazing. We should have a strong team this year with a lot of key guys coming back, and I can't wait to get back on the ice with everyone."
Former Thunders star Brendan Baumgartner (2010-2011)
Baumgartner also played in the FHL for the 1000 Islands Privateers and Brooklyn Aviators in 2011-2012.