Blackfalds Bulldogs captain and forward Brett Meerman will be heading to South Dakota next hockey season after he committed to the Augustana University Vikings.
Despite the school being around for over 150 years, the Vikings men’s hockey team will play their inaugural season of NCAA Div. 1 hockey in the 2023-24 season.
Meerman, who was originally drafted by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play in the NCAA because it has been a dream of his since he was 15 years old.
“I knew the WHL route wasn’t for me I decided that from a pretty young age. Playing for the Vikings was a pretty easy decision [because of] great facilities, great coaching, and very personable people. It just felt like the right fit for me,” he said.
His decision was mostly hockey-related but explained Augustana University has great academics and plans on going into the sports management/ business program next fall.
“It’s a really good league but second of all, you get your education paid for which is also a huge part. Most of all I’d say for me I’m a smaller guy and in my opinion, if you’re going to go to the WHL you got to go straight to the NHL,” Meerman said.
“It’s a slower process to play pro and I felt like I needed more time to grow. Playing four years of junior and then being able to play four years of college gives me that extra time to grow as a player and a person… I’m just going to put my nose go to work and see what happens from there.”
He’s looking forward to the new experience of living in the U.S. as well as the college fanbase atmosphere.
Bulldogs fans can rest assured that the captain will not be heading to the U.S. before the end of the 2022-23 season and can watch him finish out his career in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).
The 20-year-old forward from Blackfalds has five goals and 14 assists for 19 points in 11 games so far this year. He’s led the team to a 6-4-1-0 season so far, which is good enough for third in the South Division. Overall in his two seasons with the Bulldogs, he’s contributed 30 goals and 51 assists for 81 points.
However, Meerman didn’t get his start in the AJHL with the Bulldogs but rather with the Grande Prairie Storm where he played two seasons before joining his hometown team in their inaugural season last year.
“It’s pretty crazy actually, I wasn’t expecting to come back after I left when I was like 12… First of all the city has grown so much and obviously, this team has been a big part of that and it’s cool to see the culture grow in Blackfalds. It’s been nothing but a treat to play for the Bulldogs,” he said.
When Blackfalds announced they’d be getting a team in the AJHL a few years ago, at first Meerman was hesitant to play for the squad but once he got the chance to join he said it was a no-brainer.
“Our goal is to win a championship and to be quite honest with you I think we have a good group to do it this year,” he said.
“We have a lot of good older guys, good pieces, and we also have a lot of really good younger guys who have been stepping up. I think we’re built to go deep and I think our record doesn’t really show how we’ve played this year… We’ve had a good start to the season so far but we’re only going to get better from here.”