The Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) are pleased to announce that forward Alec Butcher has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Sacred Heart University of the Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA).
Butcher, 19, is in his second season in the NAHL with the Brown Bears. The native of Anchorage, Alaska is currently tied for the NAHL scoring lead with 49 points. That includes a league-leading 31 assists and 18 goals.
“It feels pretty good,” said Butcher, whose Bears begin a three-game series with the Austin Bruins on Thursday in Kenai River. “I’m pretty excited for next year. They’re bringing me in a year early, so I want to be ready and up for the challenge.”
Earlier this season, Butcher (5’11/175) was named as the NAHL’s Forward of the Month for October. After being runner-up for the award in September, Butcher really put himself on the NCAA radar the first two months of the season. In October, he led the Brown Bears to a perfect record during the month and help capture 1st place in the Midwest for a good period of time. In seven games, Butcher had 11 points, which included four goals and seven assists. He was also a remarkable +10 during the month.
“Alec is the ultimate competitor. He is a guy that hates to lose and he demands perfection of himself. I have never seen someone prepare like he does. He relishes and embraces the challenge of being the go-to guy on our hockey club,” said Brown Bears head coach Geoff Beauparlant. “When you mix his competitiveness and grit with his talent with the puck, it makes for a pretty high-end hockey player. He wants to be the guy with the puck with the game on the line.”
Last season, Butcher had 30 points in 41 games played for the Brown Bears. In 85 career NAHL regular season games to date, Butcher has 79 career points.
Butcher also continues the trend of many players who used the ladder of development to move from the NAPHL to the NAHL and onto the NCAA and Butcher is another shining example.
Butcher played in the NAPHL for two seasons for the Pikes Peak Miners. During the 2011-12 season, Butcher led the 18U Division in scoring with 43 points and was named to the All-NAPHL 18U 1st Team. In the season prior to that, Butcher played for the Miners 16U team that won the NAPHL 16U Championship.
Sacred Heart is currently 7-19-0 overall and 6-13-0 in the AHA. But there are only three seniors on the roster and the coaching staff really likes the freshmen and sophomore classes, plus next year’s incoming recruits.
“It’s all about fit and finding a place where you can excel. The way I see it, there’s only one direction they can go, and that’s up,” Butcher said. “I expect to go in and play a pretty big role and play every night,” he said.
Butcher is the third player on the Brown Bears roster to be committed to a NCAA Division I school. Sebastian Fuchs committed to the University of Denver and Albin Karlsson committed to Niagara University.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)