The Texas Tornado, proud members of the North American Hockey League, are pleased to announce that forward Drew Mayer has signed a commitment to play NCAA Division I hockey at Ferris State University, located in Big Rapids, Mich. Ferris State, who currently plays in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), will begin play in the Western Collegeiate Hockey Association (WCHA) beginning in the 2013-2014 season. Mayer, a 1993 birth year with another year of junior eligibility, is expected to join the Bulldogs for the 2014-2015 season.
"Ferris is a really great spot for me," Mayer said. "It's a small school with a good business program that really fits what I'm looking for. Hockey-wise, their systems are really going to help me develop as a player. They've also got a smaller ice surface with tight corners, which helps my game, as well."
"We're really excited for Drew, players like him are hard to find." Tornado head coach and general manager Tony Curtale said. "We're especially happy he's going to a school like Ferris, a program that's been on the rise for the past couple of seasons. He's a classic power forward who goes to the net hard. We think he'll really thrive there."
Mayer played his last year of Midgets with Honeybaked, where he was the captain of a team which won the Michigan state championship. He had signed an NAHL Tender to play with the Tornado before the the 2011-2012 season, but began the year with the Indiana Ice in the USHL, where he had played three games the season before.
After 18 games with Indiana in 2011-2012, Mayer had fallen out of the lineup, but knew he had an option a little further down south.
"I actually had orginially wanted to start last season with Texas," Mayer said. "Indiana told me I could stay there and practice, but I wouldn't be getting back into the lineup."
Mayer called up the Tornado coaching staff, who said they'd be happy to take him for the stretch run. It was a move that paid off, as Mayer scored three goals and six assists in 10 regular season games before picking up a goal and three assists in five games at the 2012 Robertson Cup, which the Tornado eventually won.
"There were a lot of leaders on that team," Mayer said. "Guys like Mico [Solorzano], Jack [Prince] and [Taylor] Herndon helped my transition on to the team and showed me how to be a leader, too. I loved being a part of that."
Mayer had options to return to the USHL at the start of this season, but the Troy, Mich. native was adamant that he wanted to return to the Tornado. He came into camp in even better shape, and seemed primed for a big year in 2012-2013. That hit a stumbling block at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minn., however, when a hit net during the first period of the first game of the season broke Mayer's wrist, sidelining the winger for 16 games and nearly two months.
"That was definitely a setback," Mayer said. "But I got right back in the gym and stayed in shape so I could come back strong."
That's exactly what happened, as Mayer returned on November 8th and recorded points in his first four games back, including a two-goal game against Odessa on November 12th. He was in the midst of another good stretch (13 points in 11 games, including points in each of his last five) when he suffered another injury to the same wrist. He missed the next 10 games rehabbing that, but since returned to the lineup on February 22nd. In 27 games this season, Mayer has scored 12 goals and 10 assists with 35 PIM and a plus/minus rating of +10.
"He's had to battle through some injuries," Curtale said. "But we're proud of him and knew he was a Division-I caliber player, for sure."
Mayer joins CJ Reuschlein (Army), Brandon Hawkins (Bowling Green), Nick Neville (Denver), Justin Greenberg (Miami) and Max Shuart (Michigan) as the sixth current Tornado player to have signed a Division-I commitment.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)