Brears commits to University of Alabama-Huntsville
Another Merritt Centennials’ player from this past season has landed a scholarship to play NCAA Division I hockey in the United States.
The Cents’ organization announced last week that Chad Brears, 20, has signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers beginning this September.
The news of Brears’ commitment to UAH follows closely on the heels of the announcement last week that his linemate, and this past season’s Centennials’ captain, Evan Stack has agreed to attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst starting in the fall.
“We are extremely happy for Chad,” stated Cents’ head coach and GM Luke Pierce. “He had a breakout year this season, and was a significant contributor to our recent success. Chad is very well suited for college hockey with his speed and intelligence. His consistency this past season proved that he is an elite player who warranted an opportunity to move on to play Division I NCAA hockey.”
A Cold Lake, Alberta native, Brears is spending this summer in the sunny Okanagan, working and training in preparation for the start of his college hockey career. He is extremely excited about attending the University of Alabama.
“I started talking to their assistant coach, Gavin Morgan, back in January of this year. We kept in touch, and then I talked with the team’s head coach, Chris Luongo, once the Cents’ season was over. When I learned that they had a good Engineering school at UAH, I knew that it would be a good fit.”
From his temporary home in Kelowna, Brears went on to add that he didn’t get a chance to fly down to Huntsville and check things out, but that he’s only heard good things about the school, the area and the hockey program.”
“I’m a big country music fan,” said Brears with a laugh. “It’s kind of nice knowing that Nashville is less than two hours away from where I’ll be going to school.”
There are currently three other graduates of the British Columbia Hockey League attending the University of Alabama-Huntsville: Graeme Strukoff from the Trail Smoke Eaters, the Langley Chiefs’ Mac Roy, and Alex Allen who played for both the Victoria Grizzlies and the Prince George Spruce Kings.
In addition, a UAH graduating senior is Jamie Easton from Edmonton, Alberta.
“He actually played for the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League,” stated Brears. “Their team is located only about a half hour away from where I lived in Cold Lake. I remember watching him play.”
Brears garnered interest from schools both north and south of the border as a result of his fantastic second Junior A season with the Centennials. The smooth-skating centreman displayed great hands, and a knack for finding both the net and his linemates. In 58 regular-season games he scored 28 goals and added 30 assists for 58 points.
Brears is hoping that his offensive prowess will help a Chargers’ team that went just 2-28-1 last year playing in the Gulf Coast Conference. In fact, the quiet Albertan is looking forward to the challenge.
“That seems to have been my history in hockey. I’ve often played for smaller teams that are struggling a bit. But that’s the way I like it – overcoming obstacles and trying to make the team better, and make myself better.”
The former member of the Junior B Princeton Posse won’t soon forget his two great years in Merritt.
“It was great. The support from the small town – you really feel it. That’s definitely a positive I’ll take away from Merritt.”
As for his teammates, and the Cents’ coaching staff, Brears added, “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of players to finish off my junior career with. I’m proud of everyone on that team. They all gave 110%. Just a great group of guys to be around.
“As for Luke Pierce and [assistant coach] Joe Martin. I’d say they were the best coaching combination that I’ve ever had. They did an amazing job with the group that we had.”