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Butcher Finds a Home With Brown Bears

04/04/2014, 12:00pm EDT
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.

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