Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making The Jump

An NCAA scholarship -- it’s what most BCHLers dream of and the reason many of them play Junior A hockey as opposed to trying to make it big through the WHL. Former Surrey Eagle Brad McGowan knows all about that dream, especially now that it has become a reality for him.

After his final season in the BCHL ended in the spring of 2011, McGowan made the move across the continent to the state of New York to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology, or RIT for short. Following a season where he put up 89 points in 59 games with the Eagles, the style of hockey in the Atlantic Hockey conference was quite a change.

“It’s a lot more structured and a lot more defensive hockey,” said McGowan. “It’s not as high flying as the BCHL. Here it’s more defensive and you have to be in the right place.”

In his freshman year, McGowan put up nine goals and nine assists with the Tigers. One of the biggest adjustments for the Vancouver native was the shorter season in the NCAA. His team only played 37 games, and he featured in every one of them.

“It was different,” he said. “I find that if you’re on a hot streak, it’s harder to stay hot, but if you’re on a cold streak, it’s really easy to stay cold. Games are five or six days apart, so you don’t really feel like you get that momentum.”

The 22-year-old credits Eagles coach Matt Erhart with helping him make the jump to the NCAA. Erhart, who is in his third season as the bench boss in Surrey, played college hockey at Quinnipiac from 1999 to 2003 and kept tabs on McGowan’s progress last year.

“The first semester is always a big adjustment, especially going in as a 21-year-old and starting at school again with a full plate,” said Erhart. “In the second half of the season there, he really took off and found some chemistry with some line mates, and speaking with the coaches there, they’re expecting him to be a big part of their offense in his second year.”

McGowan, who is majoring in business, also expects to have an increased role in his sophomore season and feels that his game has improved over the summer.

“I had a great off-season,” he said. “I really trained hard this year. I skated with a lot of good players too, so it looks like I’ll do a lot better this year. I feel faster as well, so hopefully it will transfer over to the season.”

The Tigers, who finished in fifth in their conference last season, are looking to improve their standing in 2012-2013, and McGowan is primed and ready to help lead them to success. It’s a role that his former junior coach knows he’s capable of filling.

“In the three years I’ve been in Surrey, he had the best skill set of any player that I’ve worked with,” said Erhart. “He’s a player that can make something out of nothing.

“He was one of the most dominant players in the league.”

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