Continuing to build for the future, the Waldorf University hockey team has added Braedan Pearce to its incoming recruiting class.
Pearce, a 6-foot, 201-pound forward from Victoria, British Columbia who was a team captain for the English River Gold Miners and helped lead the team to the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) Finals last season, signed a letter of intent with the Warriors on Tuesday.
Pearce spent the past five seasons playing in the Vancouver Island Junior High League (VIJHL), SIJHL, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) and British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).
“Braedan has a great hockey resume playing in the VIJHL, NOJHL, SIJHL and even spending some time in the BCHL,” said Waldorf assistant coach Carl Trosien, who recruited Pearce. “He will have an immediate impact here at Waldorf and we are so excited to have him.”
Pearce notched 26 points for the English River Gold Miners last season, scoring 11 goals and adding 15 assists in 38 games. He provided seven points with three goals and four assists in 33 appearances during the 2015-16 campaign, which concluded with the Gold Miners earning a trip to the SIJHL playoffs.
During the 2015-16 season, Pearce also played for the Cochrane Crunch in the NOJHL and registered eight points with one goal and seven assists.
The 2014-15 campaign saw Pearce compete for the Victoria Grizzlies, who reached the BCHL playoffs. He also appeared in 48 games for the Peninsula Panthers in the VIJHL. Pearce racked up 28 points for the Panthers, delivering 11 goals and 17 assists.
The first two years of Pearce’s junior hockey career were with the Peninsula Panthers. He turned in 15 points with four goals and 11 assists in 45 games as the Panthers reached the 2013-14 VIJHL playoffs.
A 2014 Spectrum Community High School graduate, Pearce said the opportunity to play collegiate hockey at Waldorf is unbelievable. Growing up, he said plenty of minor league hockey players dreamed of becoming stars like Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby. As Pearce grew older, he realized playing collegiately was his biggest pursuit.
“I knew there had to be a step below the big leagues that was much more attainable, yet still difficult to reach,” Pearce said. “Now that I have turned my greatest goal into my greatest achievement, I will give myself space for more ambition.”
Pearce is the son of Steve Pearce and Jen Forward and the stepson of Alicia Pearce. He plans to study sport management at Waldorf and joins the Warriors alongside two of his close friends who are also recent recruits – Chilliwack, British Columbia forward Taylor Karr and Regina, Saskatchewan forward Kaden Hintz.
“I chose Waldorf because the student-to-staff ratio, along with the varsity men’s hockey program,” Pearce said. “I have two good buddies attending Waldorf with me as well. It will be the best four years of my life. I cannot wait until it all begins.”
Pearce fits the culture that Waldorf is looking to instill in its program. The coaching staff is eager to see him set an example for what it means to be a student-athlete.
“Braedan is going to be a good hockey player for us, but he brings so much more to Forest City,” Trosien said. “He is the type of athlete you want on campus. He was a fan favorite in English River because of his community involvement and interaction with the fans. We really put an emphasis on character and leadership in this recruiting class and Braedan brings that.”
The Warriors have been hard at work, assembling a strong 2017-18 recruiting class. Pearce becomes the 13th member of the incoming recruiting class, joining Karr who played for the Cochrane Crunch and French River Rapids in the NOJHL last season; Mission, British Columbia goaltender Jeffrey Veitch, who competed in the NOJHL for the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and Timmins Rock last season; Cape May, N.J. forward Alexei Pilatsky, who battled for the New England Stars in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) last year; Fort Frances, Ontario forward Josh Gouin, who played for the Fort Frances Lakers in the SIJHL and the Steele County Blades in the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) Elite Division last season; Odessa, Texas forward Anthony Chavez from the Euless Jr. Stars in the NA3HL; Hintz, who played for the French River Rapids and the English River Miners in the SIJHL this past season; Houghton, Mich. goaltender Ryall Purdy, who spent last season with the Chicago Bulldogs in the NA3HL and the Ironwood Yoopers in the USPHL; Dominic Lamanno, a goaltender from Oceanside, N.Y. who also played for the New England Stars for two seasons; Quincy, Mass. forward Patrick Freeman; Reedsburg, Wis. defenseman Sean Teske and Elk River, Minn. forward Jaydn Munnelly. Freeman, Teske and Munnelly previously played for the Dells Ducks in the USPHL Elite Division.
Waldorf continued its winning tradition last year, putting together the program’s fifth straight season with at least 20 victories. The Warriors ended the 2016-17 campaign with a 21-11-1 record, earning nine wins over regionally-ranked opponents. During Waldorf’s final season in the Northern Collegiate Hockey League (NCHL), the Warriors turned in a 9-3 conference record to secure the No. 2 seed in the NCHL Tournament and also locked up a fourth consecutive appearance in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II Central Region Tournament.
Waldorf becomes a charter member in the ACHA’s newly-formed National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division this season. The Warriors open the 2017-18 campaign with a pair of exhibition games, hosting the Chicago Cougars on Sept. 8 at Albert Lea, Minn. and then entertain the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings the following night.
Waldorf officially begins the season in a home-and-home series with Iowa State University. The Warriors face the Cyclones on Sept. 29 in a 7:30 p.m. matchup at Ames and then welcome Iowa State to Albert Lea City Arena on Sept. 30 with a 7 p.m. drop of the puck.
With the season inching closer every day, Waldorf’s coaching staff is looking forward to contributions from Pearce when he makes his collegiate debut and for years to come.
“Braedan is a very talented hockey player,” Trosien said. “He has a bunch of offensive ability. He is a guy who can play any situation for us. He will be a guy who we can expect to contribute from Day One. We are very excited to add a player like Braedan to our already deep recruiting class.”