Bark River native's first season in the NAHL ends prematurely due to COVID-19
The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought the world of sports to a standstill, and one Delta County teen playing hockey on the East Coast was caught in the middle of the crisis.
Bark River's Brayden Stannard has been a member of the Maryland Black Bears for the past few months, a team in the North American Hockey League. The 16 year old Stannard's first season in the league took an odd turn when his coach got a call in the middle of a seven hour road trip.
"All of us guys went out and were playing soccer in the parking lot, and our coach came out and was like, we have to head back to Maryland, the games are cancelled," said Stannard.
Just days later, the official word came from the league that the whole season was canceled.
"It was a shock to us all, it was something that just was not fun," said Stannard.
In his first season with the Black Bears, Stannard had netted 13 goals and 22 assists in 46 games. His team had just woken up from a slump, and were positioned in the final playoff spot for their division when the season ended.
"We finally got on track, we went on a big win streak, and I started putting a lot more points up. Everything was really rolling as a team," said Stannard.
Stannard was enjoying his time in the NAHL, even though it was a far cry from Escanaba, where he played as a freshman two years ago. Although he was far from home, he never really felt alone.
"It was so great to have such good people around me, and a support group from people back home,” said Stannard. “Everyone would always text me or call me. It helps a lot to have all that, especially being that far, it's not easy."
Stannard made it home to Delta County this week, and says that he now plans to continue working out and staying in shape, waiting for the day he can get back out on the ice. He still has some time until college, but is already committed to playing Division-I hockey at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.