Toronto,ON- It seems as though everywhere you look across the broad hockey landscape, Canadian University Sport is heavily represented. This is no different in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), where some of the top talents from U SPORTS turn to the professional game after school.
Making the jump to a pro hockey environment can be quite a daunting task, but these 5 players, in particular, have definitely shown that they are more than capable of playing at the pro level.
Marcus Power, Newfoundland Growlers
Despite being one of the newest teams to join the ECHL, the Newfoundland Growlers were quick to find success. Coming off a Kelly Cup championship in 2018, the team was poised to make another run at the cup thanks largely in part to their offensive core. Marcus Power, a second-year player with the club, and a figure who played a big role during the 2018-19 championship season continued to establish himself as an important player offensively. He notched fifty points in just fifty-one games this year before this season was postponed, with that, Power continued to play a big role for the Growlers.
Coming off a four-year stint with the UPEI Panthers, where he consistently scored at a point-per-game pace, he made the jump to the professional level and hasn’t missed a beat. He even landed a short two-game stint with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in September.
Power has continued to prove that he is more than capable to play at the professional level and if everything goes according to plan, he has a legitimate chance to crack the Marlies roster next season.
Hunter Garlent, Florida Everblades
With the 2019-20 season being his first pro season, Hunter Garlent blossomed into quite the pickup for the Florida Everblades. Finishing in a tie for first with South Carolina in the South Division before the season was cut short, Garlent was essential in supporting Florida’s offensive attack. He ended the year with a respectable forty-four points in fifty-four games as a rookie and proved to be a crucial depth piece in the fight for the division crown against the Stingrays. He joined the Everblades after three spectacular seasons with the St Mary’s Huskies in Halifax, where he notched a total of 131 points in just ninety games. After averaging almost a point-per-game as a rookie, keep an eye on Hunter Garlent as he continues to develop on one of the best teams in the ECHL.
Tyler Coulter, Rapid City Rush
While many players have jumped to the ECHL from a university or college, Tyler Coulter’s journey to professional hockey has been international. After almost five seasons with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, Coulter spent the 2017-18 season with the Jacksonville Icemen and later, the University of Calgary Dinos. Coulter played just eleven games with the Dinos, where he recorded just three points in the process.
He then spent the next two seasons in the Division 1 league in Sweden before landing a second ECHL stint, this time with the Rapid City Rush. Playing almost a full season with the Rush, Coulter recorded a respectable thirty-nine points in forty-seven games. With the Rush battling for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division, Coulter played a great depth role on the team. Having a long list of professional experience before joining Rapid City, Coulter seems to have finally found a place to consistently pursue his dream of professional hockey.
Zachary Sawchenko, Allen Americans
The first and only goalie on this list, Zachary Sawchenko saw more of a backup role this season. However, that didn’t stop the former University of Alberta Golden Bear from making an impact. He played thirty-four games across two seasons with the University of Alberta, where he posted a .918 save percentage and a 1.79 GAA. The Americans were Sawchenko’s third team of the 2019-20 season. Having spent time with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda and the Orlando Solar Bears (although never playing a game with Orlando) before joining Allen, Sawchenko formed quite the tandem with starter Jake Paterson, leading the Americans to first place in the Mountain Division.
While his numbers aren’t anything to marvel at, Sawchenko has consistently been a respectable goaltender and has proven undoubtedly that he can play at the professional level. Whether his stint with the Americans is one that lasts for a few more years or is just another stop along the way, Sawchenko will continue to make an impact for years to come. Whether he can take over the starting role is still in question, but being just twenty-two years of age, he has plenty of time to grow and mature into an all-around goalie.
Brayden Low, Reading Royals
Another international journeyman, Brayden Low has shown that professional hockey can take you all around the world. After playing junior in the WHL and BCHL, Low had a short career with the University of Alberta during the 2015-16 season, where he had just four points in twenty-one games. After his first season with the Golden Bears ended, Low left Alberta to pursue a pro career; one that has had many stops. Having played games with Rapid City, Quad City and Wichita before joining Reading, Low also played in Australia before rejoining Reading to start the 2019-20 season. While his U SPORTS career was nothing spectacular, Low knew that he was destined to play professionally. Notching thirty-eight points in sixty games with Reading during the shortened season, Low helped the Royals to second place in the North Division, one of the ECHL’s most competitive groups. While he isn’t yet considered as a standout, Low’s level of consistency and determination at just twenty-five years old is nothing short of outstanding. READ MORE ON LOW