The Manhattanvile College Valiants program checked off a lot of boxes for Revelstoke Grizzlies captain Raymond Speerbrecker.
First is the school itself, which he says is very well regarded and gives people opportunity for employment after hockey. Among them are more than 12,500 internship opportunities, more than 3,500 employer connections and in 2018, 89 per cent of their graduates are employed or are in grad school.
The Revelstoke native plans to study finance and believes that job opportunities will be “pretty unmatched” as he attends the Westchester County-based campus that is 30 minutes from New York City. Another factor why Speerbrecker chose the school is his family’s financial commitment is something they can do.
The Valiant’s men’s hockey program is in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division III. They have advanced to five NCAA Tournaments and earned five conference Tournament Championships, including the 2018-19 UCHC Title, and four ECAC West Conference Tournament championships (2005, 2007, 2008, 2010), in addition to topping the ECAC West regular-season standings twice (2006, 2007).
“The hockey is really good. They have really great facilities from what I have heard,” says Speerbrecker, who wasn’t able to tour the campus because of COVID-19.
The five-foot-11, 185 pound forward is confident he can step in and do well. He expects there to be an adjustment, but Speerbreckers says Grizzlies coach-GM Ryan Parent has prepared him well for the next step,
“Playing in the KIJHL gave me an opportunity to really fine tune my skills for the last three years,” says Speerbrecker, who played in 100 regular season and playoff games scoring 35 goals and 90 points.
Speerbrecker, who played two games as an affiliate player in the B.C. Hockey League with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, says the Grizzlies focus on individual development. In the pandemic shortened season, Speerbrecker benefited from the extra practice time.
“In Revelstoke, a big philosophy is we practice really hard so when we go into game situations, the game is actually easier than the practice itself,” says Speerbrecker. “We were going pretty steady there with five practices and five workouts per week. I have been really able to fine tune small increments in my game and every aspect last year.”
The Valiants like how Speerbrecker thinks the game and his defensive skills. He will get an opportunity on the penalty kill, but with his offensive skills, the Valiants see Speerbrecker being able to move up into a top six role.
Speerbrecker, who played his entire junior hockey career with the Grizzlies, says it’s easier to go to a program that has a successful history.
“It’s definitely exciting to be a part of a program that has had success in the past. Coming from the Grizzlies, I’d like to think that since I’ve been around there, we’ve been lucky enough to have pretty successful teams. The transition should be fairly smooth. I’m looking forward to that.”