page contents
skip navigation
Home Players & Parents Coaches Officials Team USA Membership Safety About Help

Butcher Finds a Home With Brown Bears

04/04/2014, 12:00pm MDT
By Tom Robinson - Special to USAHockey.com

Alec Butcher spent the start of the 2012-13 hockey season bouncing to three teams in three different leagues and two countries.

After all that, he ended up back home in Alaska. Still in Alaska, Butcher came into the 2013-14 season with high expectations.

“I was very confident,” Butcher said. “I knew I could be a point-a-game guy.”

Butcher proved that in his first full season with the North American Hockey League’s Kenai River Brown Bears: He compiled the most points of any player in the NAHL during a season in which he secured his future hockey destination. The 19-year-old forward from Anchorage led the league in assists (42) and points (66) while helping the Brown Bears to the playoffs. After the season, he decided he would move on to Sacred Heart University in Connecticut to continue his hockey career.

The journey to get there was a long one, though.

After earning second-team all-state honors while helping Anchorage West to a state title as a sophomore, Butcher hit the road to boost his developing career. He spent two seasons with the Pikes Peak Minors, helping the 16-and-Under team to a division title in the North American Prospects Hockey League in his first season.

The transition to junior hockey did not go as smoothly.

Butcher played for the Prince George Spruce Kings in the British Columbia Hockey League and the Carleton Place Canadians in the Central Canada Hockey League early last season before then-Kenai River coach Oliver David made a deal to bring Butcher back to Alaska.

“I had lived away from home for two years before,” Butcher said. “Moving back was nice. It was nice being able to play in front of my parents and family and friends and having a close relationship with a lot of guys on the team with them being from Anchorage and Kenai and the surrounding areas.”

Butcher produced 10 goals and 20 assists in 41 games with the Brown Bears last season. He came back confident he was ready for more.

“Last year was kind of a rough start to my junior career with getting traded twice,” Butcher said. “I think once I came out to Kenai, I did pretty well.

“I knew that coming in this year, I’d have a good opportunity to be a top-line and maybe first power-play guy and put up some numbers. I’ve had some good linemates and some great teammates to set me up and everything worked out.”

Butcher has scored 24 goals, including six on the power play, where he has been effective while moving to many different spots. Butcher’s 18 power-play assists is the second-highest total in the league.

“With the way our system works, our coach [Geoff Beauparlant] believes we’re good players. He tells us where to start and tells us to be creative from there,” Butcher said. “Having five good hockey players on the ice, you can come up with something. I try to keep my head up and find the open guy.

“I’ve been down low, half wall, up top on the point, whatever is needed. It changes all the time. I think our coach loves that we have a flexible team and we can play any position.”

After leading the NAHL in scoring, Butcher decided he was ready to move on again. He said he is excited to head east this fall to start his next journey at Sacred Heart.

“They think I’m ready for school, and that’s what my family believes, so I’m going to head there in the fall and see how it goes,” said Butcher, who would have been eligible for one more year on the junior level.

“It’s a beautiful, gorgeous campus. It was everything I was looking for.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Recent Junior News

Popular Articles & Features

ADM Spurring Growth For Maine Gladiators

09/02/2015, 3:00pm MDT
By Mike Scandura - Special to USAHockey.com

Gladiators strive to develop hockey players for life through proper youth development

TRENDING: Right-Sized Youth Sports

09/01/2015, 9:15am MDT
By USA Hockey

Sept. 1, 2015 | More than 40,000 spectators, plus a national television audience, watched the Little League World Series this past Sunday on a glorious afternoon in Pennsylvania. There were smiles, cheers, entertainment and the noticeable absence of demand for those 12- and 13-year-olds to pitch from 60 feet, six inches or run 90 feet between the bases like their professional baseball heroes.

Right-sized baseball and softball fields, along with age-appropriate rule modifications, have been accepted wisdom in youth baseball for more than 50 years.

Coincidentally, while Little League was paring to its finalists, U.S. Soccer announced a nationwide initiative to improve youth skill development. The centerpiece was a shift to small-sided game formats and field sizes to be phased in across the country by August 2017. As part of the new plan, American soccer at U6, U7 and U8 will be played 4v4 on a pitch approximately one-eighth the size of an adult soccer field. Nine- and 10-year-olds will play 7v7 on a one-quarter-scale pitch. Not until age 13 will players begin competing 11v11 on a regulation adult-sized pitch.

“Our number one goal is to improve our players down the road, and these initiatives will help us do that,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. Soccer’s youth technical director. “In general, we would like for players to be able to process information faster, and when they are in this (new) environment, they are going to learn to do that. Fast forward 10 years, and there are thousands of game situations added to a player’s development.”

With this change, American soccer will join sports like baseball, basketball, hockey and tennis, all of which have embraced the skill-development benefits of age-appropriate playing dimensions and competition formats (see chart below).

Those benefits are at the core of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which was recently praised by the Sports Business Journal as a “trailblazing program.”

Segmenting Your Season

08/25/2015, 1:15pm MDT
By Michael Caples

Tag(s): News & Features